Elyse Villani fifty sets up Scorchers' win

Perth Scorchers Women 155 for 5 (Villani 60, Strano 2-25) beat Melbourne Renegades Women 123 for 7 (Molineux 37, King 2-25, Graham 2-26) by 32 runs

Elyse Villani hit nine fours to lead Scorchers’ charge © Getty Images

Under the safety of then Docklands Stadium – with rain hammering down in Melbourne – Perth Scorchers simply proved too powerful for the Melbourne Renegades, who sit bottom of the table with just one win having played half their matches.

The Scorchers’ triumph was built on a brilliant innings from Elyse Villani, with some fine late hitting from the lower-middle order setting up a steep target of 156 for the hosts.

All five of the Scorchers’ bowlers then impressed, with Katherine Brunt and Suzie Bates tight, and Emma King and Heather Graham picking up two wickets each. Only Anya Shrubsole gave away more than 26 from her four overs, but she picked up the vital wicket of Danni Wyatt, just as she looked set to purr.

Unusual opening

It’s not often Suzie Bates falls cheaply, and it’s even more seldom to see the New Zealander – the ICC ODI and T20I Player of the Year – out hit wicket. But that’s exactly what happened with the fifth ball of the match, as her New Zealand team-mate Lea Tahuhu dug in a swift bouncer, which Bates fended away behind square to the leg side, only to drag her bat around and fall hit wicket in the process.

You cannot keep a player of Bates’ quality down, however. Typically, it was Bates who put the brakes on the Renegades’ fast start to the chase with a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss another national team-mate, and the hosts’ key player, Rachel Priest. She proved very difficult to get away, with her four overs costing just 18 runs.

This was not Bates’ last moment of brilliance, though; with Renegades needing 13 runs an over and five wickets down, Molly Strano attempted an ambitious ramp off Heather Graham. She caught hold of it nicely, but Bates was stationed at short fine leg, and stuck out her right hand and took a brilliant catch falling backwards.

Villani the hero

After Bates’ early dismissal, her opening partner Villani was in plum form, making a magnificent 60 from 43 balls. Early on, she took Molly Strano for consecutive boundaries – over mid-on and straight over the bowler’s head, then peppered the fence at midwicket with five fours in a single Tahuhu over. By the time she fell – caught smartly at long-on in Danni Wyatt’s first over – she had 60 of the Renegades’ 81 runs, while Claire Piparo contributed just seven in the pair’s partnership of 50. Villani’s innings set the Scorchers well on their way to victory.

In addition to claiming the wicket of Danielle Wyatt, Anya Shrubsole put in a valiant effort on the field © Getty Images

Renegades fail to capitalise on starts

The Renegades’ chase just never quite got going, with key players getting in then getting out. Sophie Molineux ,who had earlier bowled beautifully to take 1 for 16 from her four overs, put on 32 with Priest to get them off to a good start, before Priest and Kris Britt fell in quick succession. Molineux and Danni Wyatt then looked good as they shared 29 to rebuild, with each striking fine sixes, but they too fell in consecutive overs, with half the target still required.

The task proved too steep for the lower order and, despite the best efforts of Strano and Maitlan Brown, they fell short by 32 runs. The Renegades’ star recruit Grace Harris misfired in her first few matches but has missed the last two, apparently with injury; her return cannot come soon enough as the Renegades look to move up the table.

Start of Scorchers’ hot streak?

The Renegades were the only team below the Scorchers when this game began, although the table was not telling the whole story, because Scorchers had played just four games (winning two and losing two), fewer than anyone else. Their list certainly looks the part, with the batting prowess of Villani and Bolton, the English opening bowling duo Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, as well as the all-round brilliance of Bates. This was a performance befitting of that side, with plenty of individuals playing their part and only a dropped catch and missed run- out chance blotting the copybook. Is this the start of their rise up the table?

Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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