There seems no heights Devine can’t reach after the superstar Kiwi allrounder single-handedly secured a remarkable super-over triumph over gallant Hobart Hurricanes on Tuesday at Karen Rolton Oval.
Devine, who two weeks earlier made a stunning 95 then claimed 5/41 in a history-making performance in the Strikers’ win against Melbourne Stars at Adelaide Oval, incredibly stepped her game up another level to blast an unbeaten 99 against the Hurricanes in a game that was all tied up after 40 overs.
Then, chasing a more-than-difficult 13 to win in the super over, she simply thundered two sweet sixes and a four to seal an unforgettable triumph for the Strikers in front of her jubilant parents Peter and Penny, who were over from New Zealand.
While there was plenty for the Devines to celebrate, all Sophie wanted to enjoy was the team song in the sheds with her team-mates.
Completely unfussed she had finished one short of a ton, she declared: “If the team wins, that’s more important for me.” And she didn’t want to claim too much credit for her super over heroics - the third time she had snatched a super over win for the Strikers in her stunning career.
“I closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could,” she said of her two massive sixes over mid-wicket and mid-on. “I didn’t really want to do any running, that was probably more to the point!”
But she did admit, “it was nice to finish it that way”. Very nice for the Strikers fans at the ground, with Adelaide still an outside chance to steal an unlikely semi-final spot for the second successive season.
The Strikers still are in seventh place on the ladder with three wins - along with an unlucky abandoned game - in 11 clashes and are three wins behind fourth side Melbourne Renegades with three games to go, starting with Hobart Hurricanes again at Karen Rolton Oval on Wednesday from 1.40. Then Adelaide will face Perth Scorchers in Alice Springs on Saturday and Sunday.
Devine and Tahlia McGrath had gone on a runscoring rampage as the Strikers struck their highest WBBL score of 5/189 in an emphatic return to form.
Devine continued her outstanding campaign only to end up undefeated one run short of a deserved century when she scampered through for two off the final ball of the 20th over.
She had shared an Adelaide record 105 second-wicket partnership off just 67 balls with McGrath who, in her 50th appearance with the Strikers, broke through for her first half-century and ended up hammering a stunning 63 from just 42 balls.
“Tahlia was outstanding,” Devine said. “It was really pleasing to see her break free - to spend a little bit of time out in the middle then absolutely go nuts in the end. I had no worries playing second-fiddle to her for a good chunk of that innings.”
Devine, who this campaign has come so close to scoring her second WBBL century with 89 against Brisbane Heat and 95 against Melbourne Stars, thumped her unbeaten 99 from 53 balls with 10 fours and four sixes. The superstar Kiwi allrounder now has 465 runs at an average of 51.7 this summer - to go with 12 wickets, also the most for Adelaide.
The Strikers, whose previous highest score was 3/183, also against the Hurricanes at Glenelg Oval last season, incredibly were just 1/31 after the power play, with inspirational skipper Suzie Bates falling to Brooke Hepburn for six.
Devine set the wheels in motion for a decent score by taking three boundaries from a Katelyn Fryett over, showing her allround game with a cut, pull and sweep to ropes at all corners of the ground.
But it was McGrath, who has bounced back into form and had already reached her highest WBBL score with 45 against high-flying Sydney Sixers on New Year’s Eve, who took charge with some impressive, clean hitting. She took to England international allrounder Heather Knight, off-driving her for four, on-driving her for a stunning six and reverse sweeping another boundary. In successive balls she hit Sasha Moloney for a six that just evaded the fielder’s hands on the ropes at mid-wicket and a beautifully hit pull for four. Then it was three fours in three balls from Fryett, with a late cut, a cut high, wide and handsome over point and a fierce pull shot.
She was eventually stumped off Knight going for one big hit too many but she had turned the game on its head with nine fours and two sixes in her breakthrough 63.
Her dismissal signalled Devine would launch her assault. She brought up her half-century in the 15th over but that didn’t rule her out from closing in on a ton. She used her feet to crunch Moloney over mid-wicket for six and then cut her for four. But Devine was still 23 short of a ton when Knight came on for the final over.
There was a flurry of hitting for four, six, two, another six and two leaving Devine suddenly on 97 with one to go. All she wanted to do was “have a crack and have a big swing”, not worried about the scoreboard but knowing every run could prove priceless - and so it proved. A pull went high behind square-leg but there were two fielders near and despite some frantic running between the wickets Devine was left on 99 not out. The last over had gone for 22 and the Strikers had made some history.
But Hobart’s hard-hitting Indian left-hander Smriti Mandhana had her eyes on a slice of history for herself. She set about showing the Hurricanes were still in the hunt with a breathtaking cameo that saw her reach a half-century in 22 balls - equalling the WBBL record of Australia’s world T20 winning batting ace Ashleigh Gardner.
Mandhana had plundered 52 with seven fours and three sixes when the world’s No. 1 T20 bowler Megan Schutt struck, swinging the ball across her and having her well caught by wicketkeeper Tegan McPharlin, who had returned after missing the Brisbane Heat loss while at her brother's wedding. She took out-of-form batter Tabatha Saville’s spot.
“We never felt in control,” Devine said of the Hurricanes’ remarkable chase. Keeper-batter Georgia Redmayne kept bottom side Hobart right in it with an unbeaten 54 from 37 balls and, in the end, with a tight final over from Striker Sarah Coyte, who snared 3/32, it came down to the final ball to Katelyn Fryett, who needed a four to level the scores. She stunned the local crowd with a superb square drive to the boundary.
When Mandhana started the super over with a stunning six from Coyte, again it was game on, the Hurricanes scoring 1/12. But that simply set the stage for Super Sophie to again make the super over her own.