Smriti Mandhana fought valiantly scoring 64 runs in the Thunder's loss to the Melbourne Renegades. (Photo: @ThunderBBL - Twitter)

Smriti Mandhana's innings of 64 off 44 balls was beautiful but wasn't enough to secure the Sydney Thunder's first win of WBBL|07

Smriti Mandhana’s innings of 64 off 44 balls was beautiful but wasn’t enough to secure the Sydney Thunder’s first win of WBBL|07 as the defending champs fall to 0-4 on the season.

Still searching for their first win of WBBL|07 as they went down to the Melbourne Renegades by nine runs.

After losing the toss and being sent in to field first, the Thunder bowlers were able to keep the Renegades’ scoring low but were unable to seize early wickets in the powerplay. The Renegades were 0/35 off six overs.

The Renegades’ openers, Jemimah Rodrigues and Josie Dooley were cruising along until Dooley (37 off 34) skyed a ball to long-on off the bowling of Sam Bates. Jess Duffin (11 off 13) soon followed.

Sydney Thunder Kate Peterson, in her second career game, removed Harmanpreet Kaur (three from four) to capture her first WBBL wicket.

With some accurate bowling in the death overs and the ability to take consecutive wickets, the Thunder were able to stem the flow of runs conceding 22 runs off the last four overs.

Despite the constant loss of late wickets stagnating the Renegades scoring, Jemimah Rodrigues (75* off 56) propelled the Renegades total to 4/142.

Sam Bates (1/16 off four overs, 10 dot balls) and Deepti Sharma (1/23 off four overs) were standouts with the ball. While Kate Peterson (1/10 off two overs) was also impressive.

Speaking post-match, Sam Bates praised the bowling line-up.

“I think we’ve learned a lot from our first game, it’s hard to come back from when Sophie Devine hits 100 on you so I think the bowlers have bounced back really well,” she said.

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Chasing a relatively good score, the Thunder opening combination of Tahlia Wilson and Smriti Mandhana needed to get off to a good start, unfortunately, Wilson was dismissed by Ella Hayward for six runs early in the third over.

The wicket of Wilson brought Phoebe Litchfield to the crease alongside Mandhana. After a slow scoring powerplay facing the Renegades’ spinners, Mandhana and Litchfield scored 19 off the sixth over as Sophie Molineux threw the ball to pace bowler Ellie Falconer to close the powerplay, leaving the Thunder 1/43 after six overs.

The pair built a 53 run partnership before Litchfield (14 off 19) edged a ball to Josie Dooley off the bowling of Courtney Webb.

As Mandhana started to play her natural game, putting the pressure back on the Renegades’ bowlers’, The runs continued to flow off the bat of Mandhanna. But the other Thunder batters kept losing their wicket as Corinne Hall fell lbw to Molineux in the 14th over.

The game looked in doubt for the Thunder when Harmanpreet Kaur bowled Mandhanna (64 off 44) in the 16th over. It went from bad to worse as Anika Learoyd (three off five) was run out three balls later. Issy Wong (one off three) was dismissed in the next over.

Deepti Sharma (23 off 10) and Lauren Smith were able to take the game into the last over, needing an unlikely 18 runs to win.

With Courtney Webb bowling the last over, the two batters were unable to get her away as she took the wickets of Smith (nine) and Hannah Darlington (golden duck) while only conceding eight runs, restricting the Thunder to 8/133.

After the match, Bates reflected on the Thunder’s season so far.

“It’s really disappointing we’re none from four at the moment. We’re really close, we’re still really close as a team and a unit,” she said.

“As a senior leader in this group now, we’re taking responsibility helping Hannah [Darlington] out.”

Bates praised the performances of youngster Kate Peterson and India’s Smriti Mandhana.

“We’ve got a really young team and for Kate [Peterson] [to] not only take her first wicket but [for it] to be Harmanpreet Kaur, it’s a pretty special moment for her and I think [it’s] something that she’ll cherish for a long time,” she said.

“It’s really good that Smriti [Mandhana] stepped up to the plate and hit that 60, the rest of the team [now] need to support both of them.”

The Sydney Thunder will now travel to Perth for their weekend fixtures against the Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes respectively on Saturday and Sunday at Lilac Hill Park

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