Victoria began their Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) campaign with a win over New South Wales Breaker on Wednesday (February 10) at the Junction Oval in Melbourne, thanks to Sophie Molineux’s four-fer and a massive, unbeaten ton by Elyse Villani.
The much-anticipated WNCL clash began with the Alyssa Healy-led Breakers opting to bat first. They got off to a positive start thanks to a 69-run opening stand between Healy and Rachael Haynes. The left-hander was the dominant partner, attacking the Victorian new-ball bowlers in the first three overs, before Healy could even get off the mark. Tayla Vlaeminck, coming back from the injury she picked up just before the T20 World Cup, bore the brunt of the attack, going for 17 off her first two overs. The partnership, though, ended with the Aussie wicketkeeper-batter smashing one inside out straight to cover off Molineux for 21 off 35 balls.
Haynes, meanwhile, kept going smoothly at the other end, completing yet another half century in just 46 balls. However, Molineux then got rid of Tahlia Wilson (eight), Haynes (run-a-ball 60) and Erin Burns (one) in fairly quick succession. At four for 99 in the 22nd over with the left-arm spinner from Victoria picking up all the wickets to fall, it seemed Breakers would fold up pretty quickly.
That is when Ashleigh Gardner and Rachel Trenaman got together. The former got going pretty quickly and was quite severe on Georgia Wareham’s leg spin. Her inside out shot over covers for half a dozen off Molly Strano stood out and she, too, scored a fifty, that took 54 balls coming. However, on 61, she failed to pull a short Wareham delivery over square leg, where Tess Flintoff took a well-judged catch.
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Trenaman, on the other hand, steadily completed her half century and was the eighth wicket to fall as the Breakers were bowled out for 241. Kim Garth, playing her first match in WNCL, returned two for 25 for Victoria, while Wareham picked up three wickets. Molineux’s left-arm spin fetched her four for 35 in nine overs.
In reply, the Victoria batters hardly broke a sweat, thanks to a run-a-ball 135 by Villani. She first added 111 with Molineux for the opening wicket, before combining for 119 for the second wicket with Meg Lanning.
Villani hit 20 fours and three sixes in her innings as she took her time to settle before accelerating towards the end. She peppered the off side at the start, bringing up her fifty in just 45 balls. The three sixes found home over the on side as she brought up her ton off 107 balls. Lanning, meanwhile, continued her strong run of form scoring yet another half century, before being caught behind off Lauren Smith.
Victoria have notched four points thanks to the win and are second in the table right now.
Brief Scores: New South Wales Breakers 241 all out in 48.2 overs (Ashleigh Gardner 61, Rachael Haynes 60; Sophie Molineux 4/35, Georgia Wareham 3/40) lost to Victoria 242/2 in 42.2 overs (Elyse Villani 135*, Meg Lanning 52) by eight wickets.