A thrilling three-run win against the Sydney Thunder on Tuesday has lifted the Adelaide Strikers to the top of the Weber WBBL|09 standings with two matches to go.
Defending a modest total, which was only possible due to a super Player of the Match performance from Laura Wolvaardt, the Strikers bowlers did an amazing job to keep the Thunder under 121 runs.
Anesu Mushangwe showed nerves of steel in an outstanding final over, defending the eight runs required and sealing the victory at Cricket Central.
At the flip the Strikers were sent into bat, but the biggest news was the return of speedster Darcie Brown to the team, having missed the entirety of WBBL|09 so far while recovering from a hamstring injury.
The innings got off to the worst possible start, with Katie Mack getting a golden duck on the first ball of the match and Tahlia McGrath following her back in the same over.
It didn’t get much better after that, with the majority of the middle order also falling cheaply as the Strikers sunk to 4-31.
Danielle Gibson came to the crease earlier than she would have liked but quickly made an impact, hitting her first ball for six and her second for four before departing for 20.
Luckily for the Strikers, Wolvaardt made steady runs on her way to a half-century, hitting eight boundaries in the 20 overs as she carried her bat.
A great partnership with Megan Schutt at the end of the innings gave the bowlers something to defend, with the duo hitting seven boundaries in the last three overs.
Those 38 runs in the final three overs were crucial in the outcome of the match, lifting the Strikers to 7-121 as Wolvaardt finished 70* and Schutt 16*.
The Strikers also had a perfect start to their innings, with Jemma Barsby getting Chamari Athapaththu out for a duck in the opening over, before Schutt got Pheobe Litchfield caught on the rope in her first over too.
After the opening two overs, the Strikers had the Thunder 2-4 – exactly what the Strikers were at the beginning of their batting innings.
Great fielding aided the bowlers as they had an outstanding Power Play, keeping the Thunder to 2-9.
The pressure continued to build until the seventh over, when Mushangwe forced Thunder captain Heather Knight to chop on and at the halfway point, the score was 3-37.
Wickets continued to fall after drinks as the Thunder tumbled to 6-67, including a Brown wicket in her comeback match.
She finished her four overs with figures of 1-15 in a superb return, while also saving multiple runs in the field.
From the 16th over the Thunder fought back through Tahlia Wilson and Sammy-Jo Johnson, as they took advantage of the Power Surge and dug into the total.
It came down to the final over, with the Thunder needing eight from it.
Mushangwe was given the ball and came in clutch, bowling three dot balls to begin the over before getting Wilson caught on the fifth ball, leaving eight required off the final delivery.
They hit a four but it did not matter, with the Strikers prevailing as three-run winners.
With each team now having just two games to play, the Strikers sit a game clear at the top of the ladder, setting up a must-watch clash against the second-placed Perth Scorchers at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.