Heat book place to defend their crown against first-time finalists Strikers

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Heat, Strikers and Hurricanes register victories in the first WBBL05 weekend

Sophie Devine in action. © Getty Images

It was a tale of two clinical chases in both semi-finals of the fifth season of Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) as Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat cruised to victories over Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades, respectively, at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Saturday (December 7).

In the first encounter of the day, Strikers romped home by eight wickets against Scorchers with Sophie Devine leading the way with another fantastic allround performance. First, with the ball, she picked up two wickets and then went on to score an unbeaten 65 with in the chase. She was well supported by Tahlia McGrath who chipped in with a useful 36.

Opting to bowl first Strikers got off to a remarkable start, seeing the back of Lanning as early as the second over of the innings. The wicket - taken by Devine - was well set up by Megan Schutt who cramped the Scorchers skipper for room with her big, booming inswingers. The right-armer was then rewarded for her perseverance taking two wickets in two balls to rip the heart out of Scorchers' batting line-up: they were tottering at 23 for 3.



The left-handed duo of Jemma Barsby and Georgia Redmayne started the rebuilding act with some risk-free batting. They knocked the ball around to collect singles and twos, while also managing to find a boundary on the odd occasions. Having batted together for close to ten overs, Redmayne decided to put her foot on the gas, blasting Sarah Coyte over the mid-wicket boundary. With the first six of the innings, and the first six of her WBBL career, the left-hander had signaled her intent.

Barsby too joined in on the act, looking to innovate with reverse and paddle sweeps, running hard between the wickets in the scorching heat in Brisbane. The pair put on 88 runs for the fourth wicket before Barsby became Devine's second victim for 31.

Redmayne - who had had a poor run of form through the tournament so far - brought up her fourth WBBL fifty - her first for Perth Scorchers - off 41 balls. Although Scorchers lost a chunk of wickets at the back end the innings, Redmayne's 42-ball 51 took Scorchers to a competitive total of 126 for 7.

With the ball, Scorchers got off to a promising start, seeing the back of Suzie Bates for just one. However, McGrath and Devine made sure the orange-clad team made no further inroads stitching together a 79-run stand. Although the pair offered up couple of chances, Scorchers failed to cling on to any of them which meant Strikers were always in the front seat.

Despite McGrath's dismissal - caught by Barsby off the bowling of Kim Garth - with 45 runs still required, the pair of Devine and Bridget Patterson saw Strikers home. Fittingly, the former - who brought up her ninth half-century of the season - finished the game in style with a cracking boundary off Heather Graham.

In the second semi-final, Heat downed Renegades in a high-scoring encounter by four wickets to book a place in their second consecutive final. The victory was set up by the duo of Maddy Green and Grace Harris who scored 46 and 43 respectively.

Sent in to bat Renegades started positively collecting 41 runs in the power play. After the early fall of Anna Lanning (16), Chamari Atapattu and Josie Dooley ensured there were no further wickets.



The introduction of Amelia Kerr brought the wicket of Atapattu who was caught in front of the stumps looking to sweep a half-volley. It was then that Jess Duffin, Renegades skipper, joined Dooley in the middle. The form batter for her side, the right-hander wasn't allowed to get away, Heat's bowler's bowling tight lines, not allowing her to free her arms.

While Dooley continued to keep the scoreboard ticking, Duffin played herself in, preparing to launch for one final assault. She blasted two boundaries off Kerr's final over indicating that she was pressing the accelerator. Jess Jonassen finally got the prized, sending back the visitors' skipper for 44.

Meanwhile, Dooley got her first WBBL fifty off 42 balls. Alongside Georgia Wareham- who blasted 22 off eight balls - she helped Renegades to a total of 163 for 4.

Chasing 164, Heat got off to a flier as their openers Green and Beth Mooney accumulated 51 runs in the power play. Green did the bulk of the run-scoring, pouncing on anything slightly wide or on her legs. After dispatching Molly Strano for ten runs in the over, Green was caught on the boundary by Wareham in search of a third boundary. Mooney (15) departed off the very next ball - Strano's double strike reducing the defending champions to 69 for 2.

Jonassen and Harris kept Renegades at bay accumulating ones and twos before going on the offensive. The pair shared a rapid 80-run stand for the third wicket - Harris cracking a 27-ball 43, including four sixes, and Jonassen with 38 off 23 balls.

On 149 for 2, with a Heat victory in sight, Strano made her presence felt again, picking up two wickets in three balls to set back the chase again. A wicket apiece from Carly Leeson and Erica Kershaw meant Heat were suddenly on the back foot. However skipper Kirby Short and Sammy-Jo Johnson steadied their nerves and ticked off the required runs to see the defending champions home with two overs to spare.

Brief Scores:

Perth Scorchers 126/7 in 20 overs (Georgia Redmayne 51, Jemma Barsby 31; Megan Schutt 2-14, Sophie Devine 2-23) lost to Adelaide Strikers 130/2 in 18.1 overs (S Devine 65, Tahlia McGrath 36) by eight wickets. PoM: Sophie Devine.

Melbourne Renegades 163/4 in 20 overs (Josephine Dooley 50*, Jess Duffin 44) lost to Brisbane Heat 166/6 in 18 overs (Maddy Green 46, Grace Harris 43; Molly Strano 4-26) by four wickets. PoM: Jess Jonassen.