The bottom to top triumph the Melbourne Stars hoped for when they lured Meg Lanning back home and got T20 master Trent Woodhill in as coach is looking more and more likely.
The green team has never made the WBBL finals in five seasons, and finished second-last last year. But on Wednesday the Stars cemented top spot on the table with a crushing win over the Hobart Hurricanes.
Lanning didn’t do much damage with the bat, leaving it to teen star Annabel Sutherland, who pounded a season-high 72 runs, before the bowlers ground the Hurricanes batting line-up in to the ground.
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The victory was the Stars’ eighth from 12 matches, with just one loss and three no results, in a season of dominance so far that has put them in the best position ever to go all the way, with two games to go.
Sutherland’s hitting helped the Stars reach 3-159 from their 20 overs, and the Hurricanes were never really in the hunt, falling 41 runs short.
The loss makes Hobart’s task of making the finals nearly impossible as they sit second last on the table, with just three wins and two games to go.
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Sutherland was coming off three single-figure scores, having not passed four in those innings, when she was thrown in to bat at No.3 for the Stars.
The teenage all-rounder then lived up to the wraps that has plenty predicting her to be Australia’s next star with a run-spree which included five fours and two sixes in her match-high score of 72 off just 51 balls.
It was the highest score of any Stars batters this WBBL season, which is some feat given captain Lanning has scored five 50s.
Katherine Brunt took one to the tooth when she managed a special juggling catch on the boundary for the Stars.
She’d already done her job with the ball, taking two wickets, before managing to watch the ball in to her hands while teetering close to the boundary line.
Brunt bobbled the ball in to her face, then back in to her hands, and while she needed a bit of treatment for a wobbly tooth, stayed on the field to enjoy the big win.
Holly Ferling only needed two overs to make her mark at Hurstville Oval.
Brought on in the 10th over, with Hobart trying to get their chase going, Ferling conceded just three runs, one of which was a wide, to make the Hurricanes job so much harder.
Ferling’s next over only went for five, and she claimed a wicket, as the task for Hobart proved too hard and she finished with 1-8.
HEALY LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT
The Sixers have stolen the thunder from their cross-town rivals, winning the Sydney derby by four runs as the race to qualify for WBBL06 finals intensifies.
The Sixers opening pair of Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry piled on a quick-fire 55-run partnership in the first six overs, setting the intent for what the magenta wanted to do: Win. As quickly as possible.
With Ash Gardner still out of the team recovering from concussion, the Sixers’ big hitters did just that, Healy’s 44 (22 balls), Perry’s 28 (26), and Dane van Niekerk’s 45 (39) leading the side 7-147, which Sydney Thunder wouldn’t have been too disappointed with, considering the openers were going at 10-runs-an-over for the first 30 balls.
The Thunder’s chase didn’t start well, with Tammy Beaumont caught by Erin Burns in the second over for 2 (5), and her partner Rachel Trenaman trapped LBW on 16 (17) three overs later.
Thunder captain Rachael Haynes tried her best, but was brilliantly caught and bowled by Burns on 27 (21).
Enter Thunder’s young gun Phoebe Litchfield who hit three reverse sweep boundaries in the 15th over, and suddenly, there was still hope for the green.
Needing 18 runs from the final over, Litchfield hit another three boundaries, but the late flurry of runs saw them fall agonisingly close.
Burns ended the night with four catches, 3-28 and some athletic fielding efforts, and was Player of the Match.
Both Sydney teams emerge from the derby in the race for finals, each with five wins and two games to play.
Alyssa Healy made her intentions known from the first delivery of the match, sending Sammy-Jo Johnson’s pace ball bouncing into the rope. From there, she belted nine more boundaries across all sides of the Sydney Showgrounds oval, her explosive innings come to an end when she was clean bowled by Shabnim Ismail on 44. It was a shame the innings ended, but it sure was enjoyable for the 22 balls it lasted.
Sixers’ No. 3 batter, van Niekerk came in at the loss of Healy’s wicket and simply picked up where the opener had left off – except she took Healy’s 10 boundaries and upped the ante by belting the ball over the rope instead. Her innings of 45 included four sixes.
Teenage Thunder pace bowler Hannah Darlington bowled the final over of the Sixers’ batting innings and found herself on a hat-trick, bowling both Angela Reakes (4 runs from 7 balls) and Jodie Hicks for a golden duck. She missed the third wicket, but again impressed with the ball.
Alyssa Healy on her innings: “I got a couple out of the middle, finally! It’s taken a while … it’s been a rough couple of weeks for us.”
RED-HOT KIMMINCE BURNS SCORCHERS TWICE
Brisbane Heat powerhouse Laura Kimmince is bordering on unstoppable.
The big-hitter put her team on track for a third consecutive WBBL title after an outstanding display with the bat sealed a stunning come-from-behind win over the Perth Scorchers on Wednesday.
While teen gun Charli Knott hit the winning runs with four balls remaining, it was Kimmince who ensured the win with a masterful innings of 40 off just 17 deliveries, finishing not out.
In her last three bats, Kimmince has scored 104 runs, off just 37 balls, including 14 fours and seven sixes.
After restricting the Scorchers to 8-137, the Heat would have fancied their chances at Sydney’s Hurstville Oval.
They were reeling at 3-12 after losing senior players Grace Harris and Jess Jonassen for ducks in the opening over before Georgia Voll holed out in the second over.
Then Kimmince got going again to push them to victory.
“I haven’t really (thrived in that situation) before but I guess the last couple of games proved otherwise,” Kimmince said. “I think it’s a bit more belief now that I do have the freedom to play my own game and if it comes off, it comes off.
“We bat right the way through (the order), so when you’re backed in at that number (six) to go out there you want to keep the game moving forward otherwise you’re putting pressure on everyone else that comes in after you.
“We’re just excited to be back in the winners’ circle again, we had a tough couple of games in the middle there but (we decided) to keep backing ourselves and aren’t afraid to play with that freedom,” she said. “Watching the last few games there’s been a massive turnaround.”
The win – the Heat’s fifth in a row – pushes them to second place on the ladder and all but seals their place in the top four, while the Scorchers remain in contention for a semi-final spot despite the loss.
With Beth Mooney on the cusp of a half-century and threatening to lead the Scorchers to a big score, Laura Kimmince took a screamer to dismiss the Aussie representative.
Mooney had been frustrated the ball before by Kiwi spinner Amelia Kerr and played an uncontrolled cut shot the following ball with Kimmince diving full length to take a spectacular one-handed catch to dismiss Mooney for 49 (39 balls).
Kimmince displayed power and restraint in her matchwinning innings, belting four fours and three sixes but keeping her wicket intact as the Heat fought back from a disastrous start to their innings.
English leg spinner Sarah Glenn picked up four wickets in a mercurial spell for the Scorchers.
After conceding five wides from her first ball, she snared the wickets of Grace Harris and Jess Jonassen for ducks in her first over before bowling Maddy Green to break a key Heat partnership and finish her spell with the scalp of Kiwi international Amelia Kerr.
Melbourne Renegades have finally found some form, but is it too little too late?
Despite being bottom of the WBBL06 ladder, the ‘Gades will have real impact on shaping who makes the finals, because when they’re on fire – as they were with both bat and ball in their seven-wicket win over the Adelaide Strikers at Sydney Showground on Wednesday – they can beat anyone.
The win was built on the back of a solid day from all-rounder Sophie Molineux, who took 1-18 with the ball and then opened the batting, making 52 off 43 balls before Tahlia McGrath sent her bails scattering.
As for the Strikers, just as their family and friends back home were being told they would be in strict six-day lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they looked somewhat out of sorts: from collapsing with the bat to 6-88 by the end of the 18th over (able to manage 6-122 thanks to more big-hitting from Maddie Penna), to their bowlers being whacked across the oval.
The ‘Gades reached the winning target with 15 balls to spare.
Their third win of the season keeps their very slim chances of making finals alive. In fact it will take an absolute miracle; but, hey, Christmas is coming …
They’ll need to win their remaining two games – and win them big – and then have other results fall their way – to make finals by a whisker, but the commanding win against Adelaide was a good start.
Molineux was handed the ball for the second over with immediate effect, breaking the opening partnership, having Katie Mack caught for 4 (6). The inability of the Strikers openers to have any decent partnership, set the tone for the game, with wickets falling regularly and the recognised batters unable to make significant inroads into a big total.
The Renegades’ opening partnership between Lizelle Lee and Sophie Molineux was electric: notching up the 50-run milestone by the end of the sixth over in their best power play performance of the season so far.
Lee in particular was in a mood, taking Darcie Brown for 14 runs in over number two and continuing on to hit long sixes over deep mid-wicket. Lee’s innings came to an end on 48 (33), caught by Megan Schutt off the bowling of Amanda-Jade Wellington. Her knock included six fours and two sixes.
Renegades quick Carly Leeson again proved her worth, taking figures of 3/14 from her four overs. She picked up two key wickets of Stafanie Taylor (16 runs off 22 balls) and Wellington (3 from 5) two balls apart in the 17th over. But most important of her trio was the excellent caught-and-bowled to dismiss big-hitting Laura Wolvaardt who topscored for Adelaide with 36 (40). That wicket was key to slowing the Strikers momentum with the bat. She was Player of the Match.