Women's Big Bash League returns with a bang as Villani fires

Women's Big Bash League returns with a bang as Villani fires
Women's Big Bash League returns with a bang as Villani fires

Nicole Bolton dives for the ball during the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) match between Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes in Melbourne. Photograph: George Salpigtidis/AAP

Meg Lanning fell cheaply in her Big Bash return but it mattered little as national teammate Ellyse Villani powered Perth Scorchers to a six-wicket defeat of Hobart Hurricanes.

Villani top-scored with 58 at Melbourne’s Junction Oval as the Scorchers chased down their target of 144 with three balls to spare on Saturday.

Lanning’s return to the WBBL in new colours after shoulder surgery forced her to sit out last season had loomed as a highlight of the opening weekend.

The Australian captain averaged a competition-high 51.16 during her two seasons with Melbourne Stars.

But leading an imposing top order also featuring fellow T20 World Cup winners Villani and Nicole Bolton, Lanning faced just 12 balls before Brooke Hepburn had her caught behind on eight.

Bolton (four) and Heather Graham (seven) also fell cheaply but Villani steadied the ship before her superb knock came to an end on 58, attempting to ramp a Sasha Moloney delivery and caught by Alex Hartley at short fine leg.

Lauren Ebsary (40 not out) and Chloe Piparo (26 not out) steered the Scorchers home with a fifth-wicket partnership that highlighted the team’s impressive batting depth.

“I think we’ve got an extremely deep batting order,” Villani said.

“It just means that we’ve all got the ability to play with freedom, knowing that at some point everyone’s games are going to come off ... if we each commit to playing that style of cricket, it’s going to be to the benefit of the team.”

The unheralded Hurricanes still managed to put up a solid fight despite lining up without any of their imports.

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana and England captain Heather Knight were both unavailable after playing in the T20 World Cup, while West Indies allrounder Hayley Matthews suffered a fractured toe while training on Friday.

But 20-year-old opener Erin Fazackerley (38 off 16) got the Hurricanes off to a dream start, smashing three sixes and four boundaries to guide her team to 1-54 off six overs - their best ever powerplay.

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