The Strikers stormed to a crushing win with 28 balls to spare after player-of-the-match Devine claimed 1/16 from four overs then belted an unbeaten 72 and Taylor snared 3/26 from four overs, took a catch and chipped in with an important 21, sharing a 62-run stand from 50 balls with Devine.
The celebrations continued after the stunning win when star spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington accepted partner Tayler McKechnie’s marriage proposal in front of her ecstatic team-mates on the oval, who cheered wildly in front of excited Strikers fans.
But it’s back to business on Sunday when Adelaide faces the Renegades again on Karen Rolton Oval from 2pm.
The talented Strikers, determined to earn a place in the finals after narrowly missing out last year, showed they have the depth of talent and team balance to seriously challenge for the title this year after emphatically outpointing the Renegades, who were unlucky to be beaten in a super over by star-studded Sydney Sixers in last season’s semi-finals.
The world’s No. 1-ranked Twenty20 bowler Megan Schutt snared two wickets in three balls to get the Strikers’ season off to a flyer. Electric England opener Danni Wyatt tried to whip the ball to the leg-side but only managed to sky it to be caught by keeper Tegan McPharlin, then Schutt, the first player to be signed by the Strikers, became the first Adelaide player to reach 50 WBBL wickets when she dismissed Sophie Molineux for 10. And she did it all herself, claiming a stunning high caught-and-bowled from a miscued pull shot. Schutt finished with an economical 2/13 from her four overs.
And Taylor could hardly have made a more impressive start with the Strikers. The off-spinner’s first ball claimed the scalp of Claire Koski (six), who drove fiercely straight to - who else? - Schutt at mid-wicket. And Taylor finished her first over in the Strikers’ striking colours - she said she was delighted to come to Adelaide because she really loves blue - by yorking former Adelaide batter Tammy Beaumont for two.
It was hard to believe talented Taylor had hardly slept the night before. “I didn’t sleep because I was a bit nervous - it was my first game for the Strikers. There were a lot of jitters going around because I really wanted to do well,” Taylor said. She sure did that. And she expected to sleep very well last night, “with all that running around”.
The Strikers were right on top after Taylor’s memorable first over, the Renegades 4/21 after six. Gades skipper Jess Duffin and Courtney Webb steadied the ship but it was Taylor who broke their 34-run stand, having Webb stumped by McPharlin for 16. Duffin kept her side in the game by making 44 from 32 balls with five boundaries but the Strikers had done very well to restrict the Renegades to 7/117.
Kiwi speedster Lea Tahuhu quickly made it clear the Renegades weren’t going to give up without a fight, kicking off with a rare T20 double-wicket maiden. Strikers skipper Suzie Bates (two) tried to cut a ball that was too close to her and was caught behind by Josie Dooley and just four balls later she caught No. 3 Tahlia McGrath, who went for an expansive cover drive but only managed a fine edge.
Devine was unworried by what was going on at the other end. In the following over she thumped spinner Molly Strano for a huge six over mid-wicket, then pulled her for four more. Bridget Patterson joined in with four through the covers off Strano, then hooked Tahuhu for four.
When pace bowler Maitlan Brown yorked Patterson for 11 the Strikers were 3/32 and there were a few concerns among the Strikers faithful. But, after Taylor joined Devine, the game was always in the Strikers' keeping. Australian leg-spinner Georgia Wareham came in for some harsh treatment as Devine pulled a short ball over mid-wicket for six, then next ball pulled her for six more. The talented Kiwi allrounder continued her stunning form from last season when she was second-highest WBBL runscorer with 556, smacking Strano over the mid-wicket fence, bringing up her half-century from just 29 balls.
Taylor was getting in on the act as she belted Molineux over cover for four. It came as a surprise when she cover drove Brown to Duffin to be caught for 21 from 23 balls. But at 4/94, a crucial first-up win was within striking distance. “It was nice to start off on a good note,” Taylor said.
Devine’s run fest continued with an off-drive, late cut and straight drive all for four from Koski but it was Katie Mack, also in her first game for the Strikers, who finished it off with successive boundaries off Wareham.
Devine ended up on 72 not out from 45 balls with six fours and four sixes and an early finish meant there was a bit of time for some celebrations. Particularly for Amanda-Jade and Tayler.