WBBL 06 which turned out to be one of the closest competitions from the days of its emancipation, witnessed the breathtaking performances. Three spots in the final were open for the grab and the eight matches matched the euphoria of the spectators. Shabnim Ismail’s fierce spell, Prestwidge’s 4-fer or Tess Flintoff’s double three wickets haul went hand in hand with the fireworks of Meg Lanning, Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney. Matches went on to their on a couple of options while Alyssa Healy with her 52-ball 111 ended the group league with a bang.

Stars Face Back to Back Defeats:

Melbourne Stars was on a rampaging mood before their first defeat in the Melbourne Derby. They lost their first match in 10 encounters and though they sealed a spot in the finals, prior to the final week, they went on to lose both the matches in this week.  In the entire campaign, two out of their top three batters have scored most of the run to provide them with the solid platform. In the match against Heats, Lanning got out for a duck, Villani and Mignon Du Preez took the score past 100 run mark. On the other-hand, Preez’s 6 was didn’t hurt the side due to Lanning’s 77 from 59 balls. Apart from that, middle-order has chipped in with useful contribution from Nat Sciver, Anabel Sutherland or even Alana King to take the score to 151 and 178 respectively.

Katherin Brunt, Holly Ferling and Natalie Sciver was the leader in charge of the Stars bowling unit. But despite the loopholes in the pressure condition, youngsters in the side have come up with better responses. Left-arm spinner Sophie Day has been a major find for them and choked the runs in the middle over along with Alana King. Tess Flintoff, who was balancing the studies with her career in cricket, picked three wickets in both the matches. Her 3/13 against Heats almost won the match for Stars.

Lanning has trusted her in the death overs and in both the matches gave her the opportunities to bowl in the pressure situation.  In both the occasion, she proved her skipper right. Like the match against Heats, she was brought back into the attack in the 16th.  She had gone for 22 in her first over, in front of Healy, but in her next she picked up two wickets, conceding only 2 runs to bring the Stars back into the game. Despite Laura Kimmice’s unbeaten 19 from 5 and Healy’s 111 from 52 balls handed Stars defeat, in their last two matches Stars will take positive from the matches. Better control of the pressure situation and could hand them their first-ever WBBL Championship.

Healy Unleashed, Sixers Miss Out:

Healy who had scored 184 runs in 9 innings with one half-century prior to their match against Thunders, proved her worth in the dying days. On the major reason of the Sixers, 5 consecutive loss was Healy’s off from and that has costed them in the latter days. Though Perry scored runs, it came at a strike rate of fewer than 1oo runs and the middle orders failed to provide enough run in the board. But the Healy seemed to found her grove in the match against Thunders. Her 22 balls 44 paved the way for the Sixers to a long-awaited victory. In the match against Renegades, her 38 balls 63 took the score to 166, though they lost the match due to Lee’s 79 and Courtney Webb’s unbeaten 46.

Sixers needed 184 runs in 19 overs to end their journey on a winning note. Healy gave them the exact start they were looking for. She started with a six to Brunt over deep backward square leg, followed by a couple of boundaries to left-arm spinner Sophie Day. Another three boundaries came against Brunt and Sciver in the next two overs. Wayward bowling of Tess Flintoff against Healy witnessed a rampage and Sixers amassed 22 runs from that over, ending the power-play on 56/0.

Healy continued the show despite a drop chance by Annabel Sutherland and went on to complete her half-century. In the 14th over she hit back to back boundaries to Brunt to reach to 99. Brunt denied her any run in the next ball but she pulled a slower ball to the boundary to bring up her 4th WBBL hundred in 48 balls. He ended the over with a six over long-off. Brunt was punished for keeping the ball short. Though Sixers had anxious moments after her fall but Angela Reakes ensured the victory for them. Healy scored 218 runs in last three matches with a strike rate of 194. Despite the victory, Sixers failed to qualify for the Finals due to the poor run-rates.

Scorchers Sail Through Despite Middle Order Collapses:

Middle-order has been the area of concern from the beginning of the tournament. They have the two best cricketers in the World Cricket at the moments, opening for them -Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine. While Sophie Devine fired up in the order, that made the middle order fragile. Amy Jones was suffering from injury,  Heather Graham had an offseason and Bolton lost her touch in the middle of the tournament. Chole Piparo and Mathilda Carmichael made a useful contribution in tow matches, coming at number three but that was not enough to repair the leaks.

How much Perth is depended upon on their opening pair is evident from the fact that they had chased down Canes 135 runs inside 15 overs without losing a wicket. Devine remained not out on 87 from 53 balls while Mooney chipped in with unbeaten 48. Against Strikers, the defending champions, chasing 160 they made 118 runs partnership in 14 overs. Devine and Mooney were well set and were ready to repeat their performances like the previous match. They lost Devine in the 14th over and that triggered a collapse in the batting line up. They lost 7 wickets in 38 runs to lose the match by  3 wickets.

Mooney and Devine have played 59% off the balls and scored 64%  (972/1503) of the runs for the team. While they have scored a boundary in every 7 balls (6.63), the others took more than 12 balls. Both of them have scored 7 half-centuries and a century, none came from the rest.  This dependency has hit them hard in the crucial matches. Sara Glenn is playing WBBL  for the first time and has picked up 16 wickets with an economy of 6. Her 4/18 was instrumental to restrict the Strikers within 160.

International Stars Keep Inexperienced Thunder in the Hunt:

If English international Heather Knight has taken command of the Thunders middle order along with Rachel Haynes, South African seamer Shabnim Ismail is the leader of the pace bowling. The youngest side of the tournament, Thunders won both the matches in this week and has found themselves in the finals of the tournament has will face two-times champion Heats in the 2nd semifinal.

If a 3 wicket haul form Sammy Jo-Johnson against Strikers led them to a 5 wicket victory on Saturday, Shabnim Ismail ensured that Thunder are going to the final with her 3/10 in 4 over on Sunday. In the 2nd ball of the match, she removed Nicola Carey who went to pull a length ball, timed it completely and was caught by Sam Bates. The last ball of the over saw another gem of a ball uprooting the wicket of Hayley Mathews. Hurricanes’ were reduced to 2/2 at the end of the 2nd over.

In her next Tryon and Priest took singles in two balls before Tryon edged one straight to keeper Wilson. Out of the 24 balls she bowled, batters failed to score run in 18. If Ismail destroyed the top order, Hannah Darlington joined the party to take care of the middle order to apply the finishing touch. She picked up the wicket of Stalenberg, Thopmson and Moloney to restrict the Canes on 116.

Though Haynes and Knight didn’t get the runs in both the matches, the Young brigade of Thunders came to the rescue this time. In the match against Strikers, Rachel Trenaman’s 38 settled the innings and later 30 from skipper and 16* from Phoebe Litchfield helped Thunders to cross the line. After a lot of permutation combination with the opening, Trevor Griffin has finally settled with Beaumont- Trenaman duo and they have tried to give a solid start in a couple of occasions. An unbeaten partnership of 35 from Litchfield and Wilson sealed the final for the Thunders.

Heat on Roll, Claim 7th win on a Trot to Find Themselves in the Final

After 7 matches, Heat only had one win and a win against Thunder triggered the unexpected turnaround. Heats won all their next 7 matches to secure a birth i the final. Heats is one of the three teams which has defeated Stars in this WBBL. Against Stars Redmayne, Skipper Jonassen and Georgia Voll all contributed with 30 odd runs and though Tess Flintoff picked up 3/13, Laura Kimince’s 19 from 5 balls won the match for Heats.

In the next match against Renegades though they managed to get a mere total of 116, a break taking performance from Georgia Prestwidge hand them a 43 victory. She picked up Josie Dooley and Carter in the same over to dump Renegades on 7/3. Though middle orders tried to rebuild the innings, Amelia Kerr and Jess Jonassen picked up two wickets each and Prestwidge (4/12) came back later to complete the formalities.

Charlie Knott got her maiden WBBL wicket in from on Preez against Stars, Georgia Voll and she scored important runs against Renegades. Amelia Kerr’s unbeaten 35 and 2/ 24 against Renegades also boosted the confidence of this young all-rounder.

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