It should come as no surprise that Brendon McCullum is the biggest influence on Sophie Devine. “He has been an inspiration not just for me, but for entire New Zealand,” she had told The Hindu during an interview once. “He is aggressive from ball one, regardless of the situation.”
That is the way she plays too. And, on Saturday night at the Brabourne Stadium, she played an innings that reminded cricket fans of a sensational knock her idol played a decade-and-a-half ago. McCullum’s 158 not out off 73 balls in 2008 had given the inaugural edition of the IPL a dream start. He had played that blinder for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Devine’s 99 off 36 balls came for RCB, against Gujarat Giants in the Women’s Premier League. It has shown what the WPL is capable of.
Among those fine performances that were eclipsed by Devine’s stunning effort was Giants opener Laura Wolvaardt’s elegant 68 (42b). Sophie just played on a different planet today” the South African opener said.
Devine kept on hitting sixes — the biggest ones in the WPL — when she was not smashing fours.
She took 24 off the innings’ second over, bowled by Ashleigh Gardner, the Australian off-spinning all-rounder who is on top of her game at the moment (she was the player of the tournament at the T20 World Cup last month in South Africa). “She has been a bully to a lot of other people over the years and I think it is only fair that she has got a bit of her own back,” smiled Devine, a woman with a nice sense of humour.
She said it was one of her best knocks. “Cricket can be just a funny game as you do exactly the same every day and sometimes you get performances like this,” she said.
Monday’s matches: Gujarat Giants vs UP Warriorz (3.30 p.m.); Mumbai Indians v Delhi Capitals (7.30 p.m.)