Allround Natalie Sciver, mature Mignon du Preez extend Stars winning streak

Melbourne Stars in action. © Getty Images

An enterprising partnership between Mignon du Preez and Natalie Sciver combined with a collective bowling performance helped Melbourne Stars defeat Sydney Thunder by eight wickets on Saturday (November 14) in the top of the table clash. Stars now have extended their winning streak in the season six of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) to six matches in a row.

Put into bat, Thunder were rocked early by Katherine Brunt’s twin strikes in the third over of the innings. She had Sammy-Jo Johnson bowled in the first ball of the over with the allrounder going for a wild slog and got the prized scalp of in-form Heather Knight for a duck thanks to a stunning catch by Erin Osborne at mid-wicket.

From 17 for 2, Thunder couldn’t force the pace in the power play as skipper Rachael Haynes tried to resurrect the innings with an out-of-sorts Tammy Beaumont. The Sydney side could manage to find only two boundaries in the first six overs as Stars bowlers and fielders didn’t give them any leeway.

However, Haynes was starting to look solid and played a few of her trademark shots starting with a drive off Sciver in the sixth over before hitting Sophie Day and Tess Flintoff for boundaries. Amidst this, Beaumont’s struggles finally came to an end when Sciver pulled off a remarkable catch at backward point. Sciver flung to her left to intercept a reverse-sweep from Beaumont that seemed like traveling to the boundary.

Phoebe Litchfield looked impressive from the start and got off the mark with a boundary off Osborne. But at the end of 16th over, with the run rate still under six, it looked like Thunder innings could meander to a tame finish. The left-handed duo of Litchfield and Haynes took on Flintoff scoring 13 from the 17th over she bowled. Haynes brought up her fifty from 47 balls in the process.

Thunder still needed that final push and it was provided by Rachel Trenaman. Her 8-ball cameo of 17 with three hits to the fence meant they were able to post 131 for 5 at the end of their 20 overs. Litchfield remained unbeaten on 29.

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England duo of Brunt and Sciver finished with two wickets each to their name with impressive figures of 2 for 19 and 2 for 24 respectively.

Needing 132 to win, Elyse Villani started scratchily with a couple of her boundaries coming through the edges. Meg Lanning didn’t have much of strike early on and faced only 11 balls in the power play. Villani’s innings eventually ended when Shabnim Ismail bowled her for 20.

Du Preez started off confidently hitting three fours in the first eight deliveries she faced. At the other end, Hannah Darlington first got Lanning to edge one through third-man and then castled her with a brilliant yorker to get Thunder back into the game.

However, once Sciver joined du Preez in the middle runs started flowing easily. The England allrounder got off the mark with a four when Darlington strayed one down the leg-side. At the other end, du Preez continued on her ways adding two more boundaries to her kitty to reduce the target to run-a-ball from the last nine overs. The pair was inventive and took on both sides of the wickets leaving Thunder with no answers on the field.

The duo brought up their fifty partnership from 41 balls when du Preez slog swept Knight for a boundary through mid-wicket. Sciver added a couple of more boundaries before du Preez finished off the match with a hat-trick of fours in the 17th over bowled by Samantha Bates. She remained not out on 57 from 37 balls.

Brief Scores: Sydney Thunder 131/5 in 20 overs (Rachael Haynes 51, Phoebe Litchfield 29*; Katherine Brunt 2/19, Natalie Sciver 2/24) lost to Melbourne Stars 135/2 in 16.5 overs (Mignon du Preez 57*, Natalie Sciver 36*) by eight wickets. PoTM: Natalie Sciver