Vakarewa’s stunning return means not all is lost for the ‘Canes

Belinda Vakarewa was the shining light in Hobart's opening game loss to the Renegades in WBBL|07 (Photo - Cricket Australia).

The Hobart Hurricanes may have struggled to stop the Renegades from claiming their opening fixture of WBBL|07, but the continual prowess of emerging Aussie bowler Belinda Vakarewa was cause for optimism.

While the Hurricanes possess plenty of firepower with the ball, including the likes of Aussie pace demon Tayla Vlaeminck, all-rounder Nicola Carey and spinners Molly Strano and Amy Smith, Vakarewa’s experience in Hobart’s bowling unit was valuable on Saturday.

After her first over went for 10 runs, Vakarewa ensured the Renegades’ run chase was never easy, finishing with 2/21 off her four overs, mixing searing short balls and hooping in-swingers, as she consistently troubled the women in red.

Batting first, the Hurricanes’ strong batting line-up failed to push on with great starts, as openers Rachel Priest (21) and Ruth Johnston (20) both found themselves undone after getting used to the Blundstone Arena conditions.

With star recruit Mignon du Preez failing to start on the right foot after moving from the Melbourne Stars, it was Indian teen sensation Richa Ghosh (21) and the reliable Naomi Stalenberg (28) who held Hobart’s stuttering innings together. Despite threatening at times, the ‘Canes looked disappointed that they could only get their way to 121 all out off their 20 overs.

On a fine afternoon for batting on a fresh Blundstone Arena pitch, the Renegades’ mix of Australian representatives and Indian recruits made the ‘Canes pay for their tardy start to the season. All of their top four passed 20 and frustrated Hobart’s bowlers, with only Vakarewa looking dangerous with ball in hand.

The 23-year-old impressed to yet again push her claims for a return to international cricket, giving the home side a chance when she removed the in-form Indian opener Jemimah Rodrigues for 33. After snaring the much-needed wicket, she quickly followed up by halting a free-flowing innings from Courtney Webb at 31. The quick wickets also gave Vakarewa her 50th wicket in the WBBL for the ‘Canes in what was a great recognition of her consistency over time.

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Both wickets came at the halfway mark of the innings, and gave Hobart a sniff at an unlikely victory. Without her guise and ability to swing the ball both ways, the Hurricanes would have surrendered much earlier than the final over. Despite Vlaeminck (0/19 off four overs), Strano (0/26 off four overs) and Carey (0/31 off four) all maintaining tight economies, all three bowlers lacked the penetration that their opening partner held when steaming into the crease.

The only other bowler who held any danger to the Renegades’ batters was leg-spinner Amy Smith, who copied fellow leggie Georgia Wareham’s heroics in the ‘Gades’ bowling innings with figures of 1/16 off 2.2 overs.

But it was the return of Vakarewa that would give the Hurricanes the greatest confidence going forward, as the Hobart side need their spearhead in top form as they hope to discover their touch and make a mark on the WBBL this season.

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