McGrath, Wareham star as Strikers, Renegades start their WBBL campaigns with wins

Gerogia Wareham (L) and Tahlia McGrath © Getty Images

An allround performance from their new skipper Tahlia McGrath headlined Adelaide Strikers’ impressive win against Sydney Thunder at the Phillip Oval in their opening match of the seventh season of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). Earlier in the day, Georgia Wareham starred with the ball for Melbourne Renegades against Hobart Hurricanes. After Wareham’s heroics with the ball, Harmanpreet Kaur played a cameo on the back of a 68-run partnership between Jemimah Rodrigues and Courtney Webb to guide them home.

Opting to bat first, Hurricanes played two quiet overs before Ruth Johnston took on Holly Ferling, hitting three fours in the third over. Two of the debutantes’ boundaries came through the off-side and was looking good for more. However, the introduction of Wareham into the attack got immediate rewards for the Renegades, with the leg-spinner getting rid of Johnston. In the seventh over, Wareham stuck again to trap Mignon du Preez in front for just five with the Hurricanes’ score reading 38 for two.

From there, Hurricanes was on course for recovery with Rachel Priest hitting Carly Leeson for two fours and Richa Ghosh smashing Ferling’s full toss for a six. But they lost Priest to Leeson for 21 and Ghosh added two more boundaries before falling to Kaur for 21 off 14 balls.

At the 15-over mark, Hurricanes were 92 for five when Nicola Carey played across a straighter one from Sophie Molineux and in the next over, they lost Sasha Moloney for a duck. Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Naomi Stalenberg’s 28 took them to 121 as they were bowled out in the final ball of the innings. For Renegades, Wareham was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 13 while Molineux finished with two for 12 from her four overs.

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In the chase, Renegades started briskly with Molineux hitting Belinda Vakarewa for two boundaries. At the other end, Rodrigues scored only eight runs from her first 15 balls, and an impressive piece of fielding from Ghosh got Hurricanes the breakthrough.

At this point, Webb joined Rodrigues in the middle and the duo took their time in the face of a moderate chase. The India right-hander slog-swept Molly Strano for her first four, while Webb drove Carey through long-off for a boundary.

After Tayla Vlaemnick gave her a reprieve when she was caught on the boundary off a no-ball, Webb hit two more boundaries, and Rodrigues joined her with a four off Carey. The pair brought up their fifty-run partnership in the 12th over and Renegades looked on course for an easy win.

However, after launching Strano over long-off for a maximum, Rodrigues tried to repeat the shot and was caught at long-on by du Preez off Vakarewa for 33 runs from 34 balls. One ball later, Renegades lost Webb as well. Carey gave away only one run in the 15th over and Evelyn Jones was dismissed by Amy Smith in the 16th for just four.

Renegades needed 26 runs from the last 24 balls. Kaur and Wareham added 12 runs from the next two overs, leaving them 14 runs to get from the last two overs. Kaur survived a close LBW shout before slog sweeping Carey over mid-wicket for a huge six in the penultimate over. She finished the match with another sweep off Amy with four deliveries remaining.

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In the second match, put into bat, Strikers lost three wickets in the power play despite scoring 45 runs. Katie Mack was deceived by an arm ball from Samantha Bates, while Dane van Niekerk miscued Sammy-Jo Johnson to mid-off for 11 in the third over. Laura Wolvaardt chipped Deepti Sharma straight to square-leg for a first-ball duck.

From 26 for three, McGrath took the score to 46 in the seventh over in the company of Bridget Patterson before Hannah Darlington castled the latter for 11. That brought Madeline Penna to the crease and the McGrath-Penna duo resurrected the innings slowly. In the tenth over, Penna drove Darlington through cover for a four and McGrath followed it up with two boundaries off Lauren Smith. The pair took the score over the three-figure mark in the 15th over as they brought up their fifty-run partnership.

Even though Lauren accounted for both the set batters in the 17th over, Amanda-Jade Wellington’s cameo of 15 from 11 balls took Strikers to 140 for seven from the stipulated 20 overs.

In reply, Thunder got off to a terrible start losing both the openers early with only 14 runs on the board. Johnson was brilliantly caught by Penna at short mid-wicket off Darcie Brown while Smriti Mandhana hit McGrath straight to Wolvaardt at backward-point.

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Phoebe Litchfield played a few eye-catching shots in her run-a-ball 16 before she was caught behind by Tegan McPharlin off Jemma Barsby. With the score reading 34 for three in 5.3 overs, Anika Learoyd joined Corinne Hall in the middle.

The pair took their time with Learoyd, in particular, struggling to rotate the strike against the two leg-spinners in van Niekerk and Wellington. Learoyd eventually found a boundary when she swept Barsby for a four. In the next over, Hall hit Sarah Coyte through deep mid-wicket for another boundary.

They kept Thunder in the game hitting occasional boundaries during their 59-run partnership, but McGrath came back to dismiss both Hall and Learoyd with consecutive deliveries in the 15th over.

Needing 48 runs from the last five overs, it was far too steep a hill for the lower order of Thunder to climb. Only six runs came from the next two overs. That prompted Sharma to go after Coyte and was caught by McGrath for four. Thunder were eventually bowled out for 110 in 19.2 overs. For Strikers, McGrath finished with figures of three for 17, while Wellington and Coyte took two wickets apiece.

Brief Scores:

Hobart Hurricanes 121/10 in 20 overs (Naomi Stalenberg 28, Richa Ghosh 21; Georgia Wareham 3/13, Sophie Molineux 2/12) lost to Melbourne Renegades 125/4 in 19.2 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 33, Courtney Webb 31; Belinda Vakarewa 2/21) by six wickets. POTM: Georgia Wareham

Adelaide Strikers 140/7 in 20 overs (Tahlia McGrath 42, Madeline Penna 35; Lauren Smith 2/17, Sammy-Jo Johnson 2/22) beat Sydney Thunder 110/10 in 19.2 overs (Corinne Hall 38, Anika Learoyd 23; Tahlia McGrath 3/17, Sarah Coyte 2/18) by 30 runs. POTM: Tahlia McGrath

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