On a green-looking pitch, unsurprisingly after winning the toss, the Victorians sent the Tigers into bat. When speedster, Tayla Vlaeminck, claimed the wicket of Rachel Priest on just the second ball on the match, it affirmed that the Victorians had made the right decision. However, the Tigers weren’t going to lie down that easily.
Nicola Carey joined remaining opener, Sasha Moloney, at the crease, and together the pair established a 55-run partnership. A change in bowling proved inspired for the Victorians, when Sophie Molineux bowled Carey for 33, however Heather Graham simply replaced her position at the crease and picked up where Carey and Moloney had left off.
Moloney and Graham proceeded to establish a partnership of 120 runs between them, with both players notching up half centuries during this time. Kim Garth got the breakthrough for the Victorians, dismissing Graham for a well-made 59 runs off 78 deliveries. When Moloney followed two overs later – caught behind by Nicole Faltum for 69 – it sparked a mini-collapse of the Tigers middle over, with Meg Phillips, Sarah Coyte and Belinda Vakarewa all following for ducks, meaning the Tasmanians lost four wickets for four runs in the space of just two overs.
Naomi Stalenberg steadied the ship, and after coming to the crease when the Tigers were at 3-175, saw the innings through to 9-255 by the time the Tasmanians had finished their allotted 50 overs at the crease. After great form with the bat all season, Stalenberg was rewarded with her first half-century in Tigers colours, finishing not out for a superbly made 63 runs off just 50 balls.
Victorian openers Sophie Molineux and Elyse Villani got off to a solid start, batting through the first 10 overs of their innings without the loss of a wicket. Sam Bates got the breakthrough in the 11th however, dismissing Molineux for 17, and then just two balls later claiming the scalp of Victorian captain Meg Lanning LBW for a second ball duck.
Ellyse Perry then joined Villani at the crease, and the two settled in. Whilst the Tasmanians were overall disciplined with the ball and in the field, the experience of both Perry and Villani shone through, with the pair quickly piling on 161 runs as a partnership; both bringing up their half centuries in the process.
Again, it was Bates who go the breakthrough in the 39th over, claiming the wicket of Perry for 69, but as Villani sailed on to what was incredibly her second century and fourth score over 60 for the 2021 tournament, the equation was looking tougher and tougher for the home side. In the end it was Garth who hit the winning runs in the 49th over, which saw the Victorians bring up the required winning total of 256 with 11 balls remaining.
Villani finished unbeaten on 133 off 124 balls – an innings that included 19 boundaries, including one six - in what was undisputedly a Player of the Match performance.
Despite the loss, the match was a gallant performance by the Tasmanians, against a side who will lose six players to the Australian squad’s tour of New Zealand in just over a week’s time. In fact, Tasmania’s total of 9-255 was their equal third-highest total with the bat in WNCL history.
The Tigers now have a week before their next WNCL fixture, where they will take on the Queensland Fire at Blundstone Arena next Sunday, 7 March.
The match will begin at 10am AEDT, and will be livestreamed on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.