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Feature

Rodrigues hits maiden WBBL fifty, Ghosh tries her hand at finishing

The exploits of the eight Indian players at the Women's Big Bash League this week

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
29-Oct-2021
A day of four washouts kicked off the second week of WBBL 2021-22. In the seven completed fixtures that followed, the eight Indian players were responsible for two Player-of-the-Match performances and as many half-centuries. Here's the full recap.
A new week brought two new opening partners and a maiden WBBL fifty for Melbourne Renegades opener Rodrigues, who smashed a scintillating 75 not out, the third-highest score of the season, to sink Sydney Thunder. Having made 33, 14, and 13 in her three previous appearances, Rodrigues reached her half-century in 37 balls, adding 84 for the opening stand with Josephine Dooley. Shuffling across her crease, sweeping with ease, and often making room to free her arms, Rodrigues struck nine fours in her 56-ball knock, propelling Renegades to a winning total of 142 in a fixture that saw four Indians locked in a battle of one-upmanship.
A batter historically susceptible to lbw owing to the iffy nature of her front-foot defense, Renegades' in-form No. 4, Harmanpreet, was trapped in front in a copybook dismissal, having added just three in a 14-run stand with Rodrigues against Thunder. Failure with the bat, however, didn't deter the allrounder from making an impact on the game, for she knocked the wind out of Thunder's innings by bowling set batter Smriti Mandhana in a critical phase of their chase and also helped effect the run-out of the middle-order batter Anika Learoyd.
That Renegades had won their previous game was also down to Harmanpreet's all-round brilliance. Her 4-0-17-2 against Sydney Sixers included the wickets of Ashleigh Gardner and Alyssa Healy. She was involved in the dismissal of Shafali Verma as well. And when it was her turn to bat, she capitalised on a lifeline received when she was 20 and pummeled back-to-back sixes in the 17th over to seal Renegades' 119 chase.
Three single-digit scores preceded a maiden half-century in Thunder colours for Mandhana even as the defending champions remained winless after five matches this season. Early dismissals to pace meant the opener had to depart for 9 and 3 in chases against Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Stars, before a change of personal fortunes came about, in Thunder's quest of 143 against Renegades. Though her 44-ball 64 featured an array of trademark lofted shots and a deceptively effortless assortment of pulls, it wasn't quite enough as her team fell short by nine runs.
Thunder shunted Deepti between Nos. 5 and 8, and she responded with a run-a-ball 20 against Scorchers, 44 not-out off 48 against Stars (a personal best at WBBL), and an unbeaten 10-ball 23 against Renegades. In all three innings, Deepti was either the side's top-scorer or second most successful batter, but in the absence of sustained support at the other end, her efforts often went in vain. With the ball, the offspin-bowling allrounder picked up two wickets in her three outings this week.
Slotted below her designated position throughout the opening week, Hurricanes batter Ghosh made 4 and 24 not out at No. 5 and 22 at No. 6. The highest of those scores came in a chase of 145 against Stars. Four fours, including the match-sealing one, underpinned her 16-ball innings. With 119 runs in six innings at an average of 23.80, she holds the eighth position on the highest run-scorers list, three places below Rodrigues.
Ghosh also had her first brush with the gloves in the WBBL this week, stepping in for the injured Rachel Priest one over into Heat's chase, and picking up a smart, low catch to dismiss opener Georgia Redmayne.
The wristspinner remained wicketless in her two outings this week. In the rain-curtailed 11-overs-a-side contest against Adelaide Strikers, she leaked 19 off just two overs, 13 of which were plundered by Dane van Niekerk alone. Two days later, Poonam, operating in two spells outside the powerplay, kept the leash on the Hurricanes with 11 dots in 3.4 overs that cost only 16. But the final two deliveries of her spell sullied her figures a touch as Ruth Johnston carted her for a six and a four.
In Sixers' only completed game of the week, against Renegades, Radha could have forced the opposition into a tough spot even in a chase of 119 if Healy had not botched a stumping. Harmanpreet, the eventual match-winner, was enticed out of her crease by a flighted delivery in the 16th over but the wicketkeeper failed to collect it cleanly. One ball later, Radha took a return catch to dismiss Courtney Webb and finished with 1 for 12 off two overs. She also helped effect the run out of Rodrigues with a throw from the deep.
Sixers opener Shafali stumbled to a second straight duck in the WBBL as her oscillation between two extremes continued this week. Her scores so far in the tournament: 0, 0, 57 and 8.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha