Scorchers secure top spot and home final; Villani’s century helps Stars finish on high

Alana King, Chloe Piparo, Katie Mack and Elyse Villani (L to R) © Getty Images

Alana King and Chloe Piparo led from the front as Perth Scorchers thumped Sydney Sixers by eight wickets to top the points table on Sunday (November 21). Meanwhile, the run-fest from Katie Mack and Elyse Villani lit up the Adelaide Oval, with Melbourne Stars chasing down the mammoth total to end their season with a bang against Adelaide Strikers.

Chasing 175 in the last league game of the season, Stars openers, Meg Lanning and Villani, got off to a positive start by amassing 44 runs in the powerplay. After the early hitting, Strikers’ captain, Tahlia McGrath, introduced Amanda-Jade Wellington to break the opening partnership. That gamble didn’t work as Wellington was hit for 17 runs in her opening over.

Strikers’ bowling attack looked helpless against the duo, with Lanning bringing up her 27th half-century in the Women’s Big Bash League. The pair added 119 runs in just 87 balls to build a solid foundation for the Stars before Lanning was caught at mid-off by Wellington. Annabel Sutherland joined Villani at three and contributed with 27 off just 13 balls. With one run required to win the clash, Villani hit a massive six over covers to bring up her first-ever century in the WBBL.

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In the first innings, Strikers opted to bat first hoping to win the last match at their home ground. Their innings started on shaky grounds as Kim Garth castled Dane van Niekerk with the third ball of the innings. Mack and South African international Laura Wolvaardt added 49 runs for the second wicket before Sutherland struck with two wickets in the over.

Strikers decided to send Madeline Penna at four ahead of captain McGrath and it paid dividends. She went after the likes of Garth and Erin Osborne. Mack showed her skills with the bat yet again by hitting her fourth half-century of the season in 45 balls. She changed the gears after the milestone and went after Lucy Cripps. Both batters remained unbeaten and posted a partnership of 118 runs. Mack missed her well-deserved century by 11 runs while Penna scored 56 off just 34 balls.

Earlier, after opting to bat first at the Adelaide Oval, Sixers got the breezy start from their original opening pair of the season, Alyssa Healy and Shafali Verma. The pair thrived in the powerplay scoring 41 runs from it. The Scorchers’ captain then introduced her trump card, Alana King, and she dismissed both openers in her first over leaving the Sixers at 47 for two.

Ellyse Perry and Nicole Bolton tried to free their arms but the superior fielding efforts from the Scorchers unit restricted the flow of runs. Bolton was castled by King the 15th over before Sixers could accelerate. Perry and Angela Reaks tried to maximize in the death overs but, it was too little too late and Sixers could only score 128 for four in the first innings.

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In reply, Scorchers’ middle order was tested when Devine was caught at third man by a fantastic diving catch, courtesy of Lauren Cheatle for 18. Beth Mooney was stopped in the tracks as Bolton took a low catch off her own bowling. When Mooney got out, Scorchers needed run-a-ball 72, with Piparo and Heather Graham at the crease.

The pair put pressure on the Sixers’ bowlers by quick running between the wicket and occasional boundaries. Piparo brought up her first-ever WBBL half-century in the 17th over. By that time, the result was only formality as Graham hit the winning runs in the very next over, sealing the top spot and the home final for the Scorchers.

Brief Scores:

Sydney Sixers: 128/4 in 20 overs (Ellyse Perry 39*, Shafali Verma 27; Alana King 3/18) lost to Perth Scorchers: 131/2 in 17.1 overs (Chloe Pipar 50, Heather Graham 34; Nicole Bolton 1/20) by eight wickets

Adelaide Strikers: 175/3 in 20 overs (Katie Mack 89*, Madeline Penna 56*; Annabel Sutherland 2/33) lost to Melbourne Stars: 181/1 in 19.3 overs (Elyse Villani 100*, Meg Lanning 50; Megan Schutt 1/20) by nine wickets

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