There is no doubting that Tabitha Saville is one of the biggest characters of the WBBL, and it showed as she remained cool to hit the final ball for four as the Adelaide Strikers squeaked home a victory that was far from certain going into the final over as Kristen Beams the Melbourne Stars captain looked to use her experience to close out the game for her side.
It was a debut to remember for Annabel Sutherland even though she ended on the losing side. She was only in the Stars side because Georgia Elwiss was out with an injury.
Katie Mack had stuttered on Saturday but looked back to her fluid best she helped the Stars to a first wicket partnership with Lizelle Lee. Mack had been dropped by Tammy Beaumont when she was on just 13. It looked like Mack would make the Strikers pay.
Mack was looking on course for her first WBBL fifty and first in the format since hitting two for Essex in 2012; It wasn’t to be as Beaumont took the catch off the bowling of Sophie Devine to see Mack depart for 42.
Mignon du Preez was as busy as ever as she supported her international teammate Lee and they had put on 25 for the second wicket when du Preez chipped a leading edge straight back to the bowler Alex Price.
Lee was hitting sixes for fun and she had just hit two off Devine for two in the same over but going for the third could only find Tahlia McGrath who was patrolling the long-off boundary.
The Stars managed to get up to 132 for 5 from their twenty overs and looked a competitive total. The Stars before this game had struggled to bowl teams out during the season and it was looking like that might be the case today.
Suzie Bates misjudged a Beams delivery on leg stump that she looked to cut off the back foot but was bowled. It was what the Stars needed to keep things tight and hope the batters made the mistake.
The Strikers have a top order full of match winners and they would have hoped that Beaumont could have stayed at the crease for longer and was unfortunate to have been given out lbw to an Alana King delivery that looked to have pitched outside leg stump. What could not be doubted was how much it spun.
The Strikers looked to be on course to win before Sutherland brought into the attack on her debut swung the ball and the match. With her first ball, McGrath looking to get after her chipped to mid-off and then two balls later she bowled Devine with an inswinger.
Bridget Patterson soon followed and when Amanda Wellington was run out the Strikers had gone from 70 for 2 to 77 for 6.
The Strikers weren’t finished as Saville shared in two partnerships that again changed the course of the game. Along with Schutt, they started to find the boundary. Schutt had hit two fours from a Makinley Blows over, before hitting to Beams on the long-on boundary who took the catch at the second attempt.
It felt like the game had swung back the Stars way. The Strikers needed ten from the final over and the captain Beams looked to shut them out with her reliable leg-spin. It looked to be going to plan with three needed from the final ball. Beams tossed the ball up and the umpires adjudged it to be over waist height and called the no-ball.
Saville then smashed the ball through gully from the re-bowled final ball to see her side home by one wicket. The Strikers now sit third and have now won another tight game.
The Stars will see this as an opportunity missed. They looked to have turned a corner and have started to look to be more competitive than at the start of the season. The performance of Sutherland will be seen as a positive, but they will want to kick on and win more games.
It is starting to look like the group stage will finish with a number of close exciting games in the best WBBL season so far.
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Stars
Melbourne Stars 132 for 5 (Lee 52, Devine 2 for 28)
Adelaide Strikers 134 for 9 (Saville 28, Sutherland 4 for 20)