Tahlia McGrath scored her third WBBL half-century. © Getty Images

Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney and Alex Blackwell’s performances with the bat headlined the second festival weekend of the Women’s Big Bash League on Sunday (October 27). The trio helped Adelaide Strikers, Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder chase down totals after their bowlers had set up the game at the start of the day.

 

In the first encounter of the day, McGrath was the standout player, standing head and shoulders above the rest in a game where the batters largely struggled to make their presence felt. Having sent Perth Scorchers in to bat, Megan Schutt and Sophie Devine got Strikers off to a brilliant start with the ball, reducing them to seven for two within the third over— both Meg Lanning and Amy Jones back in the hut.

Natalie Sciver (26) and Nicole Bolton (41) attempted to keep their team in the game with a 49-run third wicket partnership, but once Sarah Coyte broke the stand, Scorchers collapsed in a heap. Coyte and Suzie Bates— Strikers’ dibly dobly medium pacers— picked up five wickets between them— the former finishing with figures of 3 for 18.

 

 

In pursuit of an under par 116, Strikers got off to a horrendous start losing Bates, Devine and Bridget Patterson with the score on 22 in 2.4 overs. However, McGrath ad Lauren Winfield joined hands for the third wicket to get their team back on track. The pair shared an unbeaten 94-run stand, with McGrath taking the lead, smashing Scorchers’ bowlers around the park. The right-hander collected eight fours and two sixes on her way to a third WBBL half-century. She remained unbeaten on a 46-ball 65 as Strikers surpassed the target in 14.4 overs with seven wickets to spare. Winfield was unconquered on 24.

 

The game between Thunder and Stars in Bankstown was a final over thriller, where the experienced duo of Blackwell (45*) and Rene Farrell (10*) came good for the former. The pair shared a blistering 34-run stand in just 2.5 overs to help Thunder over the line in the final over.

Chasing 142, Rachel Priest got Thunder off to a wonderful start with a quick-fire 45 in which she blasted eight boundaries and a six. At the point of her dismissal the former champions had raced to 72 for 3 in the 11th over.

 

A middle order stutter saw Stars make a comeback through Madeline Penna. The off-spinner picked up four wickets, as Thunder had suddenly crashed to 108 for 6 needing a further 34 runs in 3.1 overs. It was at that point that Blackwell and Farrell combined to score 17 runs off the 18th over, leaving their team only 16 runs to get off the final 12 balls, a task they managed quite easily in the end.

Earlier in the day, Lizelle Lee and Elyse Villani tonked half-centuries to take Stars to a respectable total of 141 for 5. Lee’s innings included as many as four sixes before she was dismissed for an even 50 by Hannah Darlington.

 

In the second game at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, the hosts brushed off a poor couple of outings to register a five-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes in the final over. Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 44 and an 18-ball cameo from Amelia Kerr got Brisbane Heat over the line in pursuit of 124.

 

 

Kerr came in to bat in the 15th over with her team needing 42 runs to win. The teenager then went on to smack 19 runs off Belinda Vakarewa’s third over— the 18th of the innings— to reduce the equation to 10 needed off two overs. Fittingly, Kerr struck the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the match to finish unbeaten on 29 off 19.

Earlier in the day, Jess Jonassen ripped through Hurricanes’ top order to keep them to a below par total of 123 for 8. The left-arm spinner finished with figures of 4 for 20, and was well supported by Sammy-Jo Johnson who also picked up two wickets.

Amidst the batting collapse, Heather Knight’s unbeaten 49-ball 61, kept Hurricanes’ in the hunt. She shared a 49-run partnership with Nicola Carey (20) for the third wicket, but it was not nearly enough as Heat kept a tight lid on the scoring throughout.

 

Brief Scores:

Perth Scorchers 115/9 in 20 overs (Nicole Bolton 41, Sciver 26; Sarah Coyte 3-18, Suzie Bates 2-14) lost to Adelaide Strikers 116/3 in 14.4 overs (Tahlia McGrath 65*, Lauren Winfield 24*; Kim Garth 2-25) by seven wickets. PoM: Tahlia McGrath.

Melbourne Stars 141/5 in 20 overs (Elyse Villani 52, Lizelle Lee 50) lost to Sydney Thunder 142/6 in 19.4 overs (Alex Blackwell 45*, Rachel Priest 45; Madeline Penna 4-20) by four wickets. PoM: Alex Blackwell

Hobart Hurricanes 123/8 in 20 overs (Heather Knight 61*, Nicola Carey 20; Jess Jonassen 4-20, Sammy-Jo Johnson 2-16) lost to Brisbane Heat 124/5 in 19.5 overs (Beth Mooney 44*, Amelia Kerr 29*) by five wickets. PoM: Jess Jonassen.