Smriti shines but Renegades prevail | Sydney Thunder - BBL
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Smriti Mandhana // Getty

Smriti shines but Renegades prevail

17 November 2021

Sydney Thunder's title defence is officially over after a narrow defeat to the Renegades, with Smriti Mandhana's blazing ton not enough to save the day

Smriti Mandhana rewrote the record books with an unbeaten century against Melbourne Renegades in Mackay, but it was not enough to snatch victory or keep Sydney Thunder's finals hopes alive.

Mandhana blasted her way to 114 not out from 64 balls in pursuit of the Renegades' 4-175, equalling the highest individual score in WBBL history and becoming the first Indian to hit a Big Bash century in the process.

The left-hander's fast finish had the Thunder within one six of pulling off a remarkable victory against the ladder-leading Renegades, but she was unable to hit the maximum required from Harmanpreet Kaur's final delivery, her team finishing four runs adrift of their rivals on 2-171.

The defending champions needed an upset win to keep their slim finals hopes alive, and their chase had a less-than ideal start when Sammy-Jo Johnson (12) and Phoebe Litchfield (1) fell inside the powerplay.

Finding a stable partner in Tahlia Wilson (38no from 39), Mandhana posted her third fifty of the season from 33 balls.

Facing an ever-growing required run rate, with 63 runs needed from the last five overs, the India superstar found another gear in the 18th over as she took 24 runs off Holly Ferling.

She moved to 83 with a four off a pull, then smashed a six down the ground next ball.

A lofted drive over cover delivered another boundary, before a second six flew through the hands of compatriot Jemimah Rodrigues at the deep mid-wicket boundary.

A fast two brought up her century in 57 balls; Mandhana barely pausing to raise her bat with 22 runs required from the final two overs.

Renegades skipper Sophie Molineux held her nerve, limiting the 19th over to nine runs, and with 13 required from the last, it was Mandhana taking on the off-spin of her national skipper Kaur.

Mandhana was the beneficiary of two fielding errors but ultimately could not hit the last-ball six required to complete what would have been a famous victory.

Earlier, the Renegades had to adjust to the Mackay conditions quickly after being sent in to bat, coming off a 10-day break between matches and meeting a Thunder team with their tails up following a win over Sydney Sixers.

Sam Bates (2-21) took the key wicket of Rodrigues (2) in the first over and Issy Wong (1-34) removed Carly Leeson (7) shortly after, before Kaur and English batter Eve Jones combined in a 91-run stand.

Jones (42 off 33) fell short of a half-century but Kaur could not be stopped, smacking two sixes and 11 fours on her way to an unbeaten 81 from 55 deliveries.

Jess Duffin struck a smart 33 off 22, helping her side to 4-175.

The Renegades reclaimed top spot with the win and remain in the box seat to advance directly to the final, with matches remaining against Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat.

The Thunder cannot make finals, but can still cause trouble against a Heat team seeking a home final.

Sydney Thunder WBBL|07 Schedule (All AEDT Start Times)

Fri 19 Nov | v Brisbane Heat | 7:05pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au

Sat 20 Nov | v Hobart Hurricanes | 3:40pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au