Sydney Thunder seal berth in final four; Perth Scorchers stumble against Strikers

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Shabmim Ismail’s fiery opening burst helped Sydney Thunder book their place in the final four with a clinical win over Hobart Hurricanes, while Adelaide Strikers held their nerve to win a nerve-jangling encounter against Perth Scorchers in the final round of group matches of the sixth season of the Women’s Big Bash League on Sunday (November 22).

Sydney Thunder v Hobart Hurricanes

With qualification on the line, Sydney Thunder delivered a six-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes at the Drummoyne Oval, thus sealing their place in the final four of the competition.

Shabnim Ismail kicked off proceedings with two wickets in the first over, dismissing the international duo of Nicola Carey and Hayely Matthews. When she removed Chloe Tryon in her second over, Hurricanes were stuttering at 4 for 3 with their backs well and truly against the wall.

Rachel Priest and Sasha Maloney (39) attempted to repair the damage with a solid 57-run stand. Through the partnership, it was Maloney who played the counter-attacking role, hitting five fours, and the only six of the innings, in an attempt to seize some momentum.

Priest’s dismissal for a 37-ball 32 in the 13th over, caused another minor collapse, with Hurricanes losing three additional wickets for 25 runs. Young Hannah Darlington’s double strike in the 16th over, leaving them reeling at 87 for 7.

Hurricanes skipper Corinne Hall provided some relief at the back end of the innings, with an unbeaten 18-ball 24 that helped elevate the total to 115 for 9 in 20 overs.

For Thunder, Ismail and Darlington took three wickets each, while Samantha Bates, Sammy-Jo Johnson and Heather Knight chipped in with one each.

Thunder had little to worry about in their chase of the sub-par total, on what looked to be a true surface. The openers started slowly, playing out a couple of quiet overs, before Rachel Trenaman (16) began to find the boundary. Her stay was, however, cut short by Matthews, who caught her plumb in front attempting to sweep.

Tammy Beaumont then took it upon herself to up the ante, striking three boundaries off Brooke Hepburn in the final over of the powerplay. She too, fell soon after – caught behind off the bowling of Nicola Carey for 22.

54 for 2 soon became 81 for 4 when skipper Rachael Haynes (4) and Knight (25) fell in relatively quick succession. While their dismissals may not have worried Thunder a great deal, they kept Hurricanes interested – their energy visibly lifting with each scalp. After that, however, Thunder suffered no more hiccups with Johnson (16*) and Phoebe Litchfield (24*) guiding them home in just 16.5 overs.

Perth Scorchers v Adelaide Strikers

Adelaide Strikers overcame Perth Scorchers by three runs in an incredible come-from-behind win at the North Sydney Oval on Sunday (November 22). The side in blue came back from a brutal onslaught from the Perth Scorchers openers to defend their total of 160.

In typical style Devine kicked off the chase with a flurry of boundaries off Megan Schutt. She crunched a couple of powerful cut shots over point before driving her through cover and flicking over square leg. Her early onslaught, coupled with Mooney’s ability to manipulate the field saw Scorchers race to 55 for no loss in the powerplay.

The two continued on their merry way, finding the boundaries at regular intervals, also bringing up their second consecutive century stand. Devine clobbered as many as nine fours on her way to a third fifty of the season.

With Scorchers needing 42 runs off 37 deliveries, Devine attempted an ungainly heave off McGrath that she simply top edged to Tegan McPharlin who took a good running catch. At the time, Scorchers were cruising to the target at 118 for 1.

It seemed the opposition skipper’s dismissal was just the opening the Strikers needed. They then clawed their way back into the contest through the combination of Alex Price, Amanda Wellington and Darcie Brown who picked up crucial wickets through the middle.

Devine’s dismissal was followed by that of England international Amy Jones and Mooney, and all of a sudden Scorchers were stuttering at 128 for 3 in 15.4 overs, with their superstars back in the shed.

With the equation reading 30 needed off 24 balls, Scorchers seemed to lose their heads. Piparo’s ramp landed in McPharlin’s gloves before Mathilda Carmichael was run out brilliantly by Bridget Patterson. Strikers managed to dry up the boundaries, squeeze in a few dot balls and push the game into the final over with nine runs to defend.

The wily Sarah Coyte used all her experience, executing her yorkers to perfection, to keep the opposition to five runs, thus helping her side to a thrilling win.

Earlier, Katie Mack and Laura Wolvaardt covered for the early loss of McGrath with a steady 57-run second wicket partnership. Mack got out of the blocks quickly, moving around the crease and coming down the pitch to put the Scorchers bowlers off. She took a particular liking to Nicole Bolton, playing an array of sweeps before stepping out to clear the straight field.

Wolvaardt’s trademark timing and finesse were also on display as she drove, flicked and glided her way to 37. However, just when it looked like the pair were beginning to get a move on, they were both dismissed in the space of 15 runs. The double blow reduced Strikers to 77 for 3 in the 11th over.

Stafanie Taylor’s absence, meant Madeline Penna was given the opportunity at no.4. The right hander joined forces with Wellington in an attempt to accelerate the scoring. Penna’s useful run-a-ball 27 allowed Wellington to settle in before the allrounder displayed a scintillating array of strokes.

She swept, reverse swept, flicked, lofted and carved her way to a 25-ball 48 to give her side some momentum in the back end of the innings. Her innings, that included five fours and two sixes, elevated Strikers’ total to 159 for 6 in their 20 overs.

For Scorchers, leg-spinner Sarah Glenn was the standout bowler taking four wickets for only 18 runs. She bowled very straight, consistently attacking the stumps, and managed to extract plenty of bounce from the surface.

Brief scores:

Hobart Hurricanes 115/9 in 20 overs (Sasha Maloney 39, Rachel Priest 32; Shabnim Ismail 3-10, Hannah Darlington 3-27) lost to Sydney Thunder 116/4 in 16.5 overs (Heather Knight 25, Phoebe Litchfield 24*; Nicola Carey 2-23) by six wickets. PotM: Shabnim Ismail.

Adelaide Strikers 159/6 in 20 overs (Amanda Wellington 48, Laura Wolvaardt 37; Sarah Glenn 4-18) beat Perth Scorchers 156/7 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 60, Sophie Devine 57) by three runs. PotM: Amanda Wellington.

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