Scorchers go to top with thrilling win; Strikers become fourth side to make it to play-offs

Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers © Getty Images

Perth Scorchers got the better of Melbourne Stars in a last ball thriller to go to the top of the table in the seventh edition of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and all-round bowling performance helped Adelaide Strikers to trounce Sydney Sixers to become the fourth side to qualify for the play-off at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Saturday (November 20).

Chasing 123 for a top spot, Scorchers didn’t have the greatest of starts as they lost both in-form openers cheaply. Beth Mooney was stumped brilliantly by Nicole Faltum off Kim Garth and Tess Flintoff got one to comeback to Sophie Devine in the fourth over.

From 16 for two, Scorchers needed someone to steady the innings. Heather Graham and Chloe Piparo were slow to get out of the blocks as they took the score to 39 in the ninth over. Annabel Sutherland removed Graham in her second over as she castled the right-hander for 13.

Marizanne Kapp and Piparo hit a pair of boundaries each in quick succession to get Scorchers’ chase back on track. But Sutherland once again struck to keep Stars in the game as she removed Piparo for 27. That brought Mathilda Carmichael into the crease and she got going straight away.

Carmichael began with a boundary off Sutherland and cut Erin Osborne for a four before pulling Tess Flintoff for another. Back-to-back boundaries against Garth in the 18th over reduced the target for Scorchers to 11 runs from the last two overs.

However, Smith accounted for Carmichael with the first delivery of the penultimate over and Alana King played four dot balls leaving Scorchers to get nine runs from the last over.

It eventually came down to six from the last three balls and one top edge from King gave Scorchers the much needed four. But more drama ensued as she got run out trying to go for the winning run in the next ball. Taneale Peschel tipped one straight to Garth and the allrounder couldn’t hit the stump at the non-strikers end. That meant Scorchers squeezed home with four wickets to spare.

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Earlier, put into bat, Stars started slowly with only 20 runs coming from the first five overs. Villani helped them finish the power play with a flourish as she hit Devine for a couple of boundaries.

However, Stars lost Meg Lanning just outside the power play as King got a leg-break to go through the Australian skipper. Although Villani hit three more in fours in quick time Sutherland was struggling at the other end and was run out in the 11th over for nine from 14 balls. Soon they lost Maia Bouchier as well with Graham accounting for her.

Things went from bad to worse for Stars when Devine dismissed Garth for just three in the 15th over even as Villani brought up her fifty from 48 balls. Post her half-century, Villani opened up to hit Samantha Betts over deep mid-wicket for a maximum and then drove her for another four. The Stars opener took down Devine in the penultimate over with 16 runs coming from it. Graham bowled a terrific last over where three Stars wickets fell – including that of Villani- as they finished on 122 for seven in 20 overs.

For Scorchers, Graham was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 16 from her four overs. King was frugal in her spell giving away only 16 runs with the prized scalp of Lanning.

In the second match at the Adelaide Oval, it went all pear shaped for Sixers after opting to bat first. Megan Schutt had Alyssa Healy driving one straight to Amanda-Jade Wellington at mid-on for a duck in the second ball of the match. Ashleigh Gardner’s horror run continued as Darcie Brown got her to nick behind the wicket in the first ball she faced – her fourth consecutive duck in the season.

Although Nicole Bolton and Ellyse Perry hit Schutt and Darcie for a few boundaries, the down fall continued for Sixers with Darcie trapping in front of the wicket and Shafali Verma getting out to a disastrous run out without facing a ball.

Soon Sixers were reeling at 30 for six with Bolton falling to another run out and Wellington accounting for Angela Reakes. At that stage, it looked like they could be bundled out for the lowest score in the history of the competition.

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Maitlan Brown and Radha Yadav took the score to 47 in the 11th over, but when they were dismissed in quick succession, Sixers were 52 for eight. Lauren Cheatle added some important runs with Stella Campbell. The southpaw eventually fell for 16 – top score of the innings – and the Sydney side were bowled out for 82 in 19.2 overs

For Strikers, Sarah Coyte picked up three wickets, while Darcie finished with two scalps.

In reply, it looked like Strikers wanted to get the job done quickly as Dane van Niekerk and Katie Mack took down Perry with three boundaries in the second over. Van Niekerk hit two consecutive fours through extra cover to show their intent.

Meanwhile, Mack continued the attack in the next over when she hit Cheatle for two fours. Introduction of Maitlan didn’t change the batters’ approach with van Niekerk smashing the pacer through long-off before launching Cheatle over long-on. The pair brought up their fifty-run partnership in the final over of the power play.

Van Niekerk kept going for her shots and got out in the same over with the South African skipper finding Verma at mid-off off Maitlan. Although they lost Mack as well in the eighth over, Tahlia McGrath and Laura Wolvaardt took Strikers home with plenty of overs to spare. That ended Sixers hope of making it to the knock outs with the home side pipping them to the post.

Brief Scores:

Melbourne Stars 122/7 in 20 overs (Elyse Villani 84; Heather Graham 3/16) lost to Perth Scorchers 123/6 in 20 overs (Mathilda Carmichael 30, Marizanne Kapp 29*; Annabel Sutherland 2/20) POTM: Heather Graham

Sydney Sixers 82/10 in 19.2 overs (Lauren Cheatle 16; Sarah Coyte 3/12, Darcie Brown 2/25) lost to Adelaide Strikers 84/2 in 10.2 overs (Dane van Niekerk 33, Katie Mack 24; Maitlan Brown 1/13 ) by 8 wickets POTM: Darcie Brown

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