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Eliminator Match Report: Strikers v Heat

24 November 2021

Adelaide Strikers have won the opening clash of the Weber WBBL Finals series, riding a uniquely incredible performance from Amanda-Jade Wellington to earn the right to face Melbourne Renegades for a place in Saturday’s decider.

Wellington collected 5/8 from her spell, the greatest figures in the history of the competition, to guide her side to victory in front of a delighted Adelaide Oval crowd.

Arriving just in time for the first ball, a welcoming sky, complete with a slowly retreating sun, poured through the gates in partnership with the steadily building crowd as the WBBL Finals countdown reached its crescendo.

Winning the toss and sending the Heat into bat, Strikers opening pair of Schutt and Brown battled with Brisbane’s Harris and Redmayne from the outset, with the intense finals pressure on display immediately in the form of a narrowly missed run-out opportunity.

Darcie Brown, yesterday announced as a long-term Striker, needed just one more chance to take the opening wicket of the finals campaign. Digging one in short of a length, the prodigious pace prospect removed Redmayne by way of a catch to keeper Tegan McPharlin, wrestling the advantage Adelaide’s way early.

Wellington, playing in her 100th game alongside fellow Striker Bridget Patterson, then turned the pressure up by turning the ball, ripping a leggie past Harris before watching McPharlin whip the bails off. A second wicket followed in the same over, as Dané van Niekerk took a classic at slip to remove Hinkley for a two-ball duck.

Remarkably, the supremely talent all-rounder then struck Jonassen’s stumps to claim a third wicket, having conceded just five runs. At the halfway mark of the Heat’s innings, the iconic Adelaide Oval scoreboard had been dutifully arranged to reflect a score of 4/44, but the best was yet to come.

Moments later, scoreboard operators slide a number five into the wickets column, again as a result of Wellington’s wizardry, but it would stay in place just a single delivery before requiring replacement. Thankfully, as the six slid into position, the five was able to be repurposed beside Wellington’s name, with Laura Kimmince’s wicket the spinner’s milestone moment.

Finishing her four overs with five wickets for the paltry total of eight runs, Wellington became the holder of the best figures in the tournament’s history, and the first to take five in a final. Fittingly, one of the most memorable moments in a stunning performance was shared with Patterson, also in her 100th game, as she took yet another incredible catch for the highlight reel to give Wellington her fourth.

Two wickets to Brown, plus some brilliant bowling from Coyte, McGrath, Schutt and van Niekerk, plus another elite outfield catch from Schutt, supported Wellington’s monumental performance, with the Strikers unit restricting Brisbane to 8/144 from their 20 overs.

The Strikers innings began as the night sky descended on Adelaide Oval, and opening pair van Niekerk and Katie Mack looked to take any concern out of the chase with a quick start. Finding the middle of the bat quickly, van Niekerk unfortunately found the fielder next, departing for 12.

Laura Wolvaardt then began chipping into the total, but when Yadav claimed her LBW for 16, the Strikers were 2/47 and far from assured a victory.

Enter the Mack Attack. Katie Mack and Tahlia McGrath.

Within the blink of an eye, the duo had pushed the total skyward, doing more than enough to take the sting out of the chase. Both batters have been in sparkling form for lengthy stretches of the tournament, and when it mattered most, they steered the ship with a steady hand and a straight blade to orchestrate an eight-wicket victory.

The Strikers now prepare to face Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval tomorrow night in The Challenger, with the winner destined for a date with Perth Scorchers at Optus Stadium on Saturday night for the title.