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REBEL WBBL|04

Strikers stumble in final WBBL outing

13 January 2019

The Adelaide Strikers’ brave late charge has ended with a whimper after a comprehensive 10-wicket loss at the hands of the Perth Scorchers in their final game of the rebel WBBL|04 season.

The Scorchers’ Meg Lanning and Amy Jones pummeled the Strikers for a stunning unbroken opening partnership of 144 to seal the deal in emphatic fashion on Sunday in Alice Springs.

Lanning played superbly for an unbeaten 70 from 48 balls, ending the game and the season with a sweep from off-spinner Danielle Hazell for one of her nine fours for the innings.

Jones also was 70 not out, from 52 balls and also with nine fours - but with one six for good measure.

It was a major anti-climax for Adelaide, which had won its previous three games. Having broken through for its first semi-final appearance last season, it ended the campaign in sixth place with five wins, eight losses and an abandoned game. The Strikers had been playing for fifth place but the Scorchers retained that spot with their win.

The Strikers for a short time had kept their slim finals hopes alive by emphatically beating Perth by 30 runs on Saturday, in the process retaining the Faith Thomas Trophy. But Melbourne Renegades sealed their historic semi-final appearance when they edged out bottom side Hobart Hurricanes by three runs later on Saturday.

WBBL Highlights: Scorchers v Strikers

Australian skipper Lanning and English keeper-batter Jones made quick work of what appeared a testing target of 141, scoring the runs from just 16.4 overs.

Skipper Suzie Bates top-scored for the Strikers with 39 but the innings that brought the game to life came from leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, who crunched a stunning unbeaten 30 from just 12 balls.

It was a milestone day for superstar Strikers allrounder Sophie Devine, playing her 50th WBBL game in a glittering career.

South Australian great, Scorchers allrounder Lauren Ebsary, 35, was playing her last game - and she was chaired from the ground after Perth’s big win.

It was Ebsary who struck a huge early blow for the Scorchers when she caught Devine, attempting to cut a ball from Hayley Jensen that cramped her for room. Devine, who has plundered 572 runs at an average of 47.7 in a sensational summer, was gone for eight and Ebsary hurled the ball high in the air knowing how big a wicket this was, the hard-hitting Kiwi having scored a matchwinning 59 the day before. Only Sydney Sixers champion Ellyse Perry has scored more runs than Devine this summer, with a remarkable 617 and more to come.

Bates got a wriggle on as she pulled, then drove Kate Cross for successive boundaries but she lost No. 3 Tahlia McGrath (six) when she went for a heave-ho but picked out Heather Graham at mid-wicket. The Strikers skipper was looking on track for her fourth half-century of the summer when she had reached 39 from 35 balls. But she was brilliantly caught overhead by Graham in the covers from Taneale Peschel. Bates ended her campaign with an impressive 421 runs at an average of 35.1.

Bridget Patterson (15) thumped Bhavi Devchand straight over her head for a six, while Tabatha Saville, who developed her cricketing talents in the Northern Territory, gave the locals a glimpse of her talent with a couple of boundaries over mid-off and mid-wicket in her 13. Keeper-batter Tegan McPharlin (16) pulled a Cross full-toss for a fierce four but, at 5/93 after 17 overs, the Strikers still were looking at a lacklustre tally.

Enter Amanda-Jade Wellington.

The Australian Test spinner, who displayed her undoubted batting talent with a breakthrough century for SA Scorpions against Tasmania in August, had previously this WBBL season reached a highest score of just seven. But she had a steely look of determination as she square drove Cross for a boundary and then hit her over point for three to end the 18th over.

Then she set her sights on Jensen.

Wherever Scorchers skipper Lanning moved her field, Wellington simply hit the ball into the new gaps as she crunched an incredible five fours from Jensen’s over. The first four balls all went for four - over mid-wicket, then a lofted straight drive, a sweep from a  full-toss, then an off-drive. After one dot ball, Wellington ended the over with another boundary over cover.

Wellington’s extraordinary cameo saw her unbeaten on 30 from 12 balls, with six boundaries, and Megan Schutt’s big six over mid-wicket from Graham’s final oval lifted the Strikers to a seemingly respectable 6/140. And the Scorchers were without superstar batter Elyse Villani, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury in Saturday’s Alice Springs clash.

Wellington goes whack

Wellington playing with a “see-the-ball, hit-the-ball” mentality said it was “pretty fun” taking the long handle to the Scorchers attack. “I like to move around the crease and manipulate the field,” she said. “I could really play with some freedom.”

The Strikers had picked up the priceless wicket of Lanning for just two on Saturday but she showed she meant business this time by crunching successive boundaries from Hazell, with a straight drive and on-drive. Jones took to Sarah Coyte, thumping her straight down the ground for six, then over cover and to mid-wicket for fours. Perth was travelling well at 0/30 after four overs, despite Schutt’s two overs costing just three.

Even Devine - the Strikers’ leading wicket-taker for the season as well with 14 - was powerless to stop the Scorchers’ charge, Lanning looking ominous as she hit her for two leg-side boundaries. After the power play on Saturday the Scorchers were struggling at 3/33. This time they had charged to 0/50. The game, and season, were quickly slipping away.

“They played beautifully,” Wellington said of the Scorchers openers. “They are two world-class players.”