Renegades power-hitter Claire Koski needed four from the last ball of the game to snatch victory and sensationally swung superstar Strikers allrounder Sophie Devine to the square-leg boundary as Adelaide missed its chance to make it two wins from two to start the season.
Koski’s unbeaten 39 from 30 balls snatched the game away from the Strikers after impressive performances from Amanda-Jade Wellington, Suzie Bates and Tahlia McGrath had seemingly put them on track for a crucial win in the first game of a double-header against the Renegades.
Leg-spinner Wellington turned the game on its head with three wickets in her first three overs after the Renegades’ English opening batter Danni Wyatt had blasted her way to 62 in a clash in which the winner was almost impossible to pick for the full 40 overs.
“To go down to the last ball, it’s always disappointing to lose those ones,” Strikers skipper Bates said, “but last season we were on the right side of those games and we’ve just got to bounce back and play better tomorrow.”
Gun New Zealand pair Bates and Devine had the Strikers on the front foot with an impressive opening partnership of 86 in 12.4 overs.
Bates top-scored with 54 from 44 balls with eight fours, while Devine made 39. Adelaide No. 3 Tahlia McGrath played with plenty of improvisation to score a critical 33 from 20 balls as the Strikers innings stalled somewhat before a flurry of late wickets saw them lose 5/17 from the final 13 balls. They finished on 7/153.
Promising pace bowler Tayla Vlaeminck, the Renegades’ shining light in their opening round loss to Sydney Thunder with an impressive 4/29, restricted Bates and Devine to just a single each in the opening over. But lively Lea Tahuhu was slashed for boundaries by Devine, then Bates in the second over.
Adelaide’s Kiwi superstars turned up the heat as Vlaeminck was too short and wide in the third over, Devine slashing successive balls to the boundary.
Australian World T20-winning left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux reined in the Strikers with just one run coming from eight balls before Bates took to off-spinner Molly Strano. The Strikers skipper pummeled three fours from three balls, punching her through the covers, then dancing down the wicket before lofting her over mid-on and slashing her through a packed off-side field.
Bates, best known for her classical batting, showed her ability to adapt to the modern game by twice jumping to the off-side to smash Molineux over square-leg for four, then sweeping leg-spinner Georgia Wareham to the boundary.
Talented 19-year-old Wareham, who played a key role in Australia’s World T20 final triumph against England in the West Indies with a direct-hit run out, then snaring 2/11, helped put the brakes on Adelaide’s strong start, her first two overs costing just six. And the talented 19-year-old broke the Strikers’ opening stand when Devine edged an attempted drive into the covers to be caught by Molineux.
Devine, who slammed a power-packed 89 from 55 balls in the Strikers’ impressive 36-run win in the season opener against Brisbane Heat, finished with 39 from 43 balls with six boundaries.
McGrath swept a Wareham full-toss for four from the first ball she faced and that set the tone for her innings. The talented allrounder thumped Tahuhu over mid-wicket for a six before walking across to the off-side to thump her over the boundary behind square-leg.
An outstanding driver of the ball, reverse sweeps for four off Courtney Webb and Strano showed her ability to bat through 360 degrees.
Bates, the Strikers’ leading scorer in WBBL|03 with 434 runs but run out for just a single against the Heat, finally was brilliantly caught behind by Emma Inglis off Wareham trying to pull the ball away from outside off-stump. Wareham finished with 2/20 from four overs, while Molineux claimed 2/21 from her four.
Attacking opening batter Wyatt, who top-scored for England with 43 in its World T20 final loss to Australia, was determined to turn the tables on Strikers pace bowler Megan Schutt, a member of the Aussies’ triumphant side, and she late cut the world’s No. 1 T20 bowler for two fours in the first three balls of the Renegades’ innings.
Wyatt, who blasted a stunning 124 from just 64 balls in a T20 international against India in March, was timing the ball to perfection and finding the gaps in the field. She gave her England team-mate, off-spinner Danielle Hazell, a tough introduction to her stint with the Strikers, thumping her over mid-on for six, then hitting her through the off-side for four before pulling her away for another boundary.
In the last over of the power play she thumped medium-pacer Sarah Coyte over cover for four then square drove another boundary as the Renegades roared to 0/47 off the first six overs - one more than Bates and Devine had scored.
Leg-spinner Wellington turned the game in Adelaide’s favour when she beat Renegades skipper Amy Satterthwaite in flight and had her stumped. McGrath, having an outstanding game with bat and ball, picked up the wicket of Emma Inglis, then Wellington, bowling with impressive flight and spin and gaining plenty of bounce, caught and bowled the dangerous Molineux and the Strikers were back on top, the Renegades 3/61.
But player-of-the-match Wyatt kept her side in the game, cover driving Schutt for a boundary to reach her half-century from 39 balls, then thumping her over mid-on for another four.
The Strikers were back on track when Wellington had Wyatt caught at mid-off by Schutt, the Renegades 4/92 in the 13th over. Wyatt had plundered 62 from 47 balls, with eight fours and a six, but still left Koski and Erica Kershaw with plenty to do. But Koski, with her stunning unbeaten 39, and Kershaw, who contributed 30 from 27, were far from done with.
There were plenty of highlights for the Strikers, with Wellington (3/27 from four overs), McGrath (33 and 1/17 from four overs), Bates (54) and Devine (39) all unlucky to end up in the losing side. But Bates is backing her side to bounce back on Sunday in Ballarat.