Superstar Kiwi allrounder Devine had Adelaide off to a flyer with a power-packed 89 from 55 balls as the Strikers reached an imposing 7/172.
Heat opener Beth Mooney continued to make runs against the Strikers, compiling an unbeaten 63, while skipper Kirby Short scored 62 not out and they shared a 127-run third-wicket partnership but the Strikers had all the answers in an outstanding allround performance.
Devine, who last year scored 355 runs and claimed 17 wickets to help lift the Strikers into the semi-finals for the first time, quickly showed her intentions by flicking Heat pace bowler Sammy-Jo Johnson over square-leg for six. The most prolific six-hitter in WBBL history plundered five sixes to go with six fours as she turned the scoreboard over at an imposing 161.8 strike rate.
The Strikers made sure of the first-up win with an impressive effort in the field, sticking to their plans, taking the pace off the ball, bowling straight and full, making good bowling changes and backing up the bowlers in the field.
“Everyone chipped in and that’s what this Strikers team is all about,” said player-of-the-match Devine, who praised Adelaide’s attack. “It’s a real strength of ours, when you’ve got Megan Schutt, who is the No. 1 T20 bowler in the world, and with Sarah Coyte coming back in.”
Medium-pacer Coyte, who had starred with Adelaide in its first two seasons before helping the Sydney Sixers to last year’s championship, claiming three wickets in the final win against the Scorchers, made an outstanding return, conceding just 17 off her four overs. Schutt claimed 1/23 from her four economical overs.
“I was really pleased to help contribute to a win … I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and gave myself a chance,” Devine said.
But some helter-skelter running between wickets threatened to derail the Strikers’ innings before it got going. Bates, lucky to escape a run out chance in the first over, was sent packing by a direct hit from Short when she attempted to steal a single to mid-on in the second over. Bates, the Strikers’ leading scorer in WBBL|03 with 434 runs, was gone for just one and it could have been even worse when Devine attempted a risky single that could have had Tahlia McGrath run out for a duck. Instead, a wayward return resulted in four overthrows. As it turned out McGrath made just one before trying to hit Johnson over mid-wicket but skewing the ball to Jess Jonassen in the gully.
Devine dominated as the Strikers reached 2/57 after six overs in the highest-scoring power play in their history, beating their 0/47 against Perth Scorchers on New Year’s Eve 2015. She followed a classic on-driven four off medium-pacer Delissa Kimmince with a slashing square cut to the boundary. Then she took to Johnson, leg-glancing, then driving over mid-off for successive fours before launching a six over fine-leg. Devine put away the bad balls and made some reasonable balls look bad, blasting her way to a half-century before off-driving off-spinner Grace Harris for another six, then sweeping a four the next ball.
Devine shared a crucial 58-run third-wicket partnership with Bridget Patterson, who was busy from the word go, showing her ability to hit the ball all around the ground. Patterson hit stunning reverse sweeps for four from off-spinner Jemma Barsby and South African leg-spinner Sune Luus, while also pulling, sweeping - the regular way - and square cutting fours in an important cameo of 31 from 27 balls.
Devine kept her head as Patterson was caught at mid-on off Barsby, then Amanda-Jade Wellington was deceived by a slower ball and bowled by Kimmince for a duck. Looking to lift the tempo again in the last three overs, the Kiwi great drove Jonassen over mid-off for another six but trying to repeat the dose over mid-on was well caught by Barsby.
Wicketkeeper Tegan McPharlin had continued on from where Patterson left off, showing plenty of innovation with lap shots and reverse sweeps as she made 30 from 22 balls with three boundaries before being sacrificed in a last-over run out.
Allrounder McGrath made up for the disappointment of missing out with the bat by picking up the wicket of opener Grace Harris (five) in her first over, trapped leg-before.
Swing bowler Schutt, fresh from snaring 2/13 in Australia’s stunning World Twenty20 final win against England in the Caribbean, had dangerous Mooney playing and missing at balls that swung away from her. Schutt’s dangerous leg-cutter had Johnson caught behind for one and the Heat was 2/9 in the third over.
The Strikers were well on top but Mooney obviously represented a danger. Australian superstar opener Mooney scored 86 not out and an unbeaten 81 - from just 48 balls - in successive games against the Strikers last summer. Mooney and Short stayed together for a solid century partnership but Bates’ side was never seriously challenged.
The Strikers had gone into the clash without batter Tabatha Saville, who was ruled out with hamstring soreness. New signing, English off-spinner Danielle Hazell, was ruled out of the opener by the England and Wales Cricket Board, which imposed a regulation stipulating players must have a seven-day break after an international series. Hazell had played in England’s T20 final loss against Australia the previous week.