Mumbai, Mar 18 (PTI) Sophie Devine lit up the Mumbai skyline with an astonishing 36-ball 99 as Royal Challengers Bangalore made short work of a 189-run target for an eight-wicket victory over Gujarat Giants in the Women's Premier League here on Saturday.
It rained sixes from the broad willow of Devine as RCB breezed past the target with as many as 27 balls to spare and keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a second successive victory.
Devine, who has also represented New Zealand in hockey before starting out in cricket as a bowler often batting at number 11, played an innings that will go down as one of the finest in the history of the T20 format.
During her stay in the middle, Devine struck eight towering sixes and nine fours.
Earlier, South Africa's star batter Laura Wolvaardt top-scored with a scintillating 42-ball 68 before a 22-run final over powered Gujarat Giants to 188 for four.
Ashleigh Gardner (41 off 26 balls) also played a brisk knock before Harleen Deol (12 not out) and Dayalan Hemalatha (16 not out) ended GG's innings by smashing a clueless Megan Schutt for two sixes and two fours.
Chasing a stiff target, RCB were off to a rollicking start with the opening duo of skipper Smriti Mandhana (37) and Sophie Devine sending the GG bowlers on a leather hunt with their breathtaking batting.
While there were innumerable sixes and fours, the highlight was Devine's maximum against left-arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar, smoking her over the midwicket for the tournament's biggest six at 94 metres.
A four and two more sixes followed from the willow of Devine as RCB raced to 125 for no loss in only the ninth over.
This was an over after the New Zealander Devine smashed Harleen Deol for an 86-metre six over to bring up her half-century off a mere 20 balls.
The 100 was up in the eighth over and what looked like an imposing total at the beginning of the RCB innings now looked very much within reach.
While Mandhana, who also meted out harsh treatment to Kanwar by hitting her for a six and two fours in an 18-run first over, got out after 37-ball 31, there was no stopping Devine as she punished Ashwani Kumari with a six and a four.
Finally, it was Kim Garth who brought an end to Devine's knock, but by then, she had already paced the way for RCB's victory.
Earlier, batting first after Sneh Rana won the toss, both Sophia Dunkley and Laura Wolvaardt showed positive intent at the start, hitting two boundaries each in the first two overs.
However, a ball after pulling Sophie Devine over midwicket for a four, Dunkley's leg stump was knocked over after the batter had shuffled across too much to play the scoop shot over fine leg to a good length delivery.
Unperturbed by the setback, Wolvaardt looked to control the innings and found the fence two more times to take GG to 40 for one in five overs.
Introduced into the attack, Ellyse Perry started on a fine note and gave away just a single off her first five balls, before she conceded a boundary off a half-volley at the Brabourne Stadium. Nevertheless, it was a good over by Perry.
Leg-spinner Asha Shobana too bowled a tidy first over, conceding, like Perry, only five runs.
Having got her eye in after spending some time in the middle, Sabbhineni Meghana broke the shackles with a boundary off Preeti Bose's first delivery off the eighth over. However, Bose came back well and gave away four runs in her next five balls.
Bose broke the 63-run partnership between Meghana and Wolvaardt when the bowler had the Indian batter stumped by Richa Ghosh in what looked like a lazy dismissal.
Ashleigh Gardner walked in and she meant business straightaway, hitting Asha for a six over long-on even as Wolvaardt, at the other end, continued to accumulate runs and reached her half-century off 35 balls, reaching the mark with a six over midwicket against Perry.
Wolvaardt then launched into Megan Schutt, smashing her for a six and a four, but Shreyanka Patil brought an end to her innings when the South African hit a low full toss straight to Bose at short midwicket.
Gardner then took it upon herself to finish GG's innings on a high note, hitting a flurry of fours before getting out lbw to Patil.