The Strikers, looking to get their WBBL|05 season off to a flyer after comprehensively defeating the Renegades by six wickets on Saturday, were beaten with one over to spare after English opener Danni Wyatt thumped a matchwinning 61 from just 37 balls.
Superstar Kiwi allrounder Sophie Devine again had a major impact for Adelaide with 48 from 30 balls and 2/32 from her four overs but she would have been disappointed she didn’t take full advantage of her outstanding start and the Strikers would have felt they had fallen just short of their par-mark after being 0/73 after nine overs.
The Smash Sisters - Devine and skipper Suzie Bates - had set the platform for a formidable tally. Devine, fresh from her player-of-the-match top-score of 72 not out on Saturday, unleashed after getting her eye in for just two balls from spinner Sophie Molineux, charging down the wicket and hitting her for a straight six from the third.
Devine was looking on track for a big score on 48 in the 10th over, having already created a slice of history. In the fifth over of the innings, from Molineux, Devine thundered a four and a pair of sixes with two straight drives and a pull shot, in the process becoming the first Striker - female or male - to reach 1500 WBBL runs, in her 52nd match.
She brought up her fourth six for the day - the same as on Saturday - with a huge straight hit off leg-spinner Georgia Wareham, bringing her tally of sixes to 65 in her career, a WBBL record. But for once she didn’t get one right out of the middle and she was caught at deep mid-wicket off spinner Molly Strano for 48 from 30 balls.
Bates had played second fiddle in reaching 24 from 30 balls but in trying to up the ante, drove Wareham straight back to her.
Tahlia McGrath and Bridget Patterson combined for a 58-run partnership, McGrath planting pace ace Lea Tahuhu over the long-on boundary on her way to 24 from 22 balls. Patterson went on to make a crucial 38 from 28 balls, hitting Tahuhu over mid-wicket for six and playing shots all around the wicket, classical and improvised.
If you are looking to make something happen, you only need to look to Devine and she did just that with the first ball of the Renegades innings. It wasn’t her greatest delivery but she picked up the crucial wicket of Molineux, chasing a wide one but caught behind by Tegan McPharlin.
Together now were dangerous Wyatt, fresh from topping England Super League scoring for the Southern Vipers with a staggering strikerate of 166, and English batter Tammy Beaumont, a former Striker. Wyatt threatened to take the game away from the Strikers as she hit fours all around the ground, from hooks, late cuts, pulls, sweeps and drives - she finished with 10 boundaries - and at the halfway point the Renegades were 1/76, the same as the Strikers had been.
Again Devine turned the game on its head, Wyatt well caught low down by Patterson at square-leg. Beaumont took up the attack by using her feet and driving leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington for a six and four. She made an important 41 from 44 balls before being adjudged lbw to Bates, back bowling after being unable to do so all last season because of foot issues. Bates then pulled off a stunning run out of Claire Koski when she miraculously flicked a throw from Alex Price onto the stumps.
With the Strikers seemingly right back in it, some big hitting from Renegades skipper Jess Duffin took it away again. She plundered 26 from 15 balls in a crucial cameo, crunching six, four, four of successive balls from Devine to all but seal the issue before Josie Dooley thumped the winning boundary with an over to spare.
The whirlwind first part of West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor’s stint as as Striker finished with Sunday’s defeat. Taylor, who made a crucial contribution in the Strikers’ first-up win, claiming 3/26, taking a catch and making 21 is only available for the first two games of the season, the last two and finals. Taylor, who has international commitments, will return when Adelaide tackles Sydney Sixers in Sydney on November 30 and December 1.
“I’m disappointed I won’t be here for the middle (part of the season) but I’ll be on the other side of the world cheering for the girls,” said Taylor, hoping she would return with the Strikers on track for a second finals appearance in three years. Taylor, who played 58 games with Sydney Thunder over four seasons and helped it to the first WBBL title in 2015-16, reckons Adelaide has the team to do just that. “I believe this team is well balanced and it is good enough to excel without me being here,” she said.
England batter Lauren Winfield, who has previously played with Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes, will step in to share the third and final Strikers international spot when Taylor is absent. She will join the team in the next couple of days in preparation for next weekend’s crucial matches against unbeaten Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers in Brisbane.