Hannah Darlington shines with ball after Rachael Haynes’ knock to power Sydney Thunder to second WBBL final

Rachael Haynes (l), Hannah Darlington © Getty Images/Women's CricZone

There seemed to be plenty of uncertainty in the Sydney Thunder camp, when the second semi-final of WBBL06 kicked off. They seemed to be a touch unsure of whether to attack from the word go or play cautiously. However, their methods on Thursday (November 26) bore fruits eventually as they beat Brisbane Heat by 12 runs in a see-saw second semi-final that saw the game shift momentum like a pendulum at the North Sydney Oval.

Tammy Beaumont kicked things off with a couple of boundaries in the first over, after they were inserted, but Rachel Trenaman, after getting a streaky boundary through the third man, had to depart for just six, getting run out, thanks to a direct hit by Laura Kimmince at the striker’s end.

Beaumont, meanwhile, continued her attacking play, hitting boundaries of all off Jess Jonassen, Georgia Prestwidge and Delissa Kimmince. Perhaps a rush of blood made her try the scoop shot despite getting runs the conventional way, and she ended up scooping one to short fine leg off Nicola Hancock. Thanks to Beaumont’s 27 off 20, Thunder were placed at two for 41 at the end of the power play.

That brought the experienced pair of Heather Knight and Rachael Haynes together in the middle. However, they couldn’t inflict much damage on Heat as Nadine de Klerk saw the back of Knight for just 17.

Haynes, at the other end, was rotating the strike and getting herself in, even as she lost Phoebe Litchfield (seven) and Sammy-Jo Johnson (13) to see Thunder precariously placed at five for 111 in the 17th over. However, as an experienced pro does, the Thunder captain stepped up and helped the team add 32 more from that point to post 143 for six.

The southpaw finished unbeaten on 48, managing to score 20 runs in the last ten balls she faced. Thunder’s surge also had to do with a 15-run final over bowled by Delissa. While Kerr returned economical figures of one for 19, de Klerk finished with two wickets for just 11 runs.

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Chasing 144 to keep their hopes of a three-peat alive, Heat lost Grace Harris for six in the second over, cleaned up by Samantha Bates for the third time in WBBL06. Young Georgia Redmayne took the attack to the left-arm spinner, hitting her for two fours and a six, before being dismissed for 25 by Johnson.

De Klerk, promoted to three, then kept Heat in the contest in the company of Jonassen. The pair found the fence regularly and also ran well between the wickets, adding 46 for the third wicket before Hannah Darlington struck.

The youngster came back after being hit for a massive six by Jonassen and sent her back caught and bowled for 19. Soon, de Klerk (27) followed her skipper back to the dugout as Beaumont’s direct hit found her short of the crease at the bowler’s end.

But Laura Kimmince, who’s found a second wind in the last half of the competition, kept Heat alive with some lusty hits. After a bit of luck on her very first ball – the ball hit the stumps but the bails didn’t fall off – she smashed Bates for a huge six, before hitting Lauren Smith for two fours and two sixes an over later.

With the equation down to Heat needing 26 off 30 balls with six wickets in the bank, it was the defending champions’ match to lose. Two run outs in the 16th over – Georgia Voll followed by Amelia Kerr – pegged Heat back a bit.

The following over was perhaps the decisive one; Laura hit one way over long on but on the last ball, a fancy (read needless) attempted switch hit off Bates saw her woodwork being disturbed. She fell for 37 off just 17 and that opened the floodgates.

Darlington then capitalized on the momentum the Thunder had gained, dismissing Charli Knott and Prestwidge off successive balls, before Johnson finished it an over later to end Heat’s dream of a three-peat.

Darlington finished with three for 19 while Johnson and Bates picked a brace apiece.

Brief Scores: Sydney Thunder 143/6 in 20 overs (Rachael Haynes 48*, Tammy Beaumont 27; Nadine de Klerk 2/11) beat Brisbane Heat 131/10 in 18.3 overs (Laura Kimmince 37, Nadine de Klerk 27, Georgia Redmayne 25; Hannah Darlington 3/19) by 12 runs. PoTM: Hannah Darlington.