Match Report:


Stars hang on for thrilling win after Sutherland heroics

Meg Lanning hit a rapid fifty in her WBBL return, Ashleigh Gardner almost saved the day for the Sixers before Annabel Sutherland had the definitive say in an electric start to WBBL|09

Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars | WBBL09

Melbourne Stars have fought their way to a thrilling victory in the opening game of Weber WBBL|09, holding off the Sydney Sixers by two runs at North Sydney Oval.

After a Meg Lanning (55 off 34) special helped the Stars to 8-165, an inspired start with the ball from the visitors' young attack had the Sixers reeling at 6-71.

Gardner lights up North Sydney with awesome 72

But stand-in skipper Ashleigh Gardner (72 off 44) dragged her team out of a mire, sharing an 84-run seventh-wicket stand with Maitlan Brown (35 off 22) to put the Sixers within reach of victory.

But Annabel Sutherland (4-27) ensured there was a twist in the tail when she bowled Gardner then had Brown out caught in the space of four balls in the 19th over.

That left the hosts 8-157 needing eight runs off seven balls and English import Alice Capsey held her nerve to seal a thrilling win - although there was some contention over whether her final delivery should have been called a wide.

Earlier, Kim Garth set the tone with the ball, starting with a maiden to Sixers opener Suzie Bates and sending down nine dots before finally conceding a run.

Lanning whacks fast fifty in WBBL return

Early pressure paid off as Bates (6) advanced on Garth but only managed to pick out Milly Illingworth at mid-off, while Alyssa Healy (10) dispatched Sophie Day for six only to hole out to the Stars spinner two balls later.

That brought 17-year-old debutant Kate Pelle (3) to the middle, with the Under-19 World Cup squad member given her chance in the tournament opener in place of Ellyse Perry, who was forced to sit out the game as she served a one-match over rates ban.

But it was another teenager on debut who ended up celebrating, with 18-year-old quick Illingworth trapping Pelle plumb lbw to leave the Sixers 3-37.

Rhys McKenna – another U19 World Cup teammate of Pelle and Illingworth’s – entered the fray and secured the big wicket of Erin Burns, caught on the rope by Sasha Moloney without scoring.

The Stars boast one of the younger attacks in the tournament but there was no stopping the visitors as Sutherland, herself just 22 years old, imposed herself on proceedings, removing Chloe Tryon (8) and Mathilda Carmichael (9) in consecutive overs.

It left the Sixers in deep trouble at 6-71 needing 95 off 56, but with Gardner still in the middle the match remained very much alive and she found the perfect partner in Brown.

Earlier, Lanning wasted no time making herself at home in her first WBBL game since November 21, 2021, after stand-in Sixers captain Gardner – who took 2-23 off her four overs – opted to bowl first.

The Stars skipper cleared the boundary off the eighth delivery she faced then survived a scare on 12 after being given out caught behind off the bowling of Lauren Cheatle, employing DRS to overturn the decision.

Sutherland steps up with crucial four wickets

The 31-year-old had hit three fifties in four WNCL innings since returning from illness and she carried that form into the shortest format, finding the boundary eight times on her way to a 28-ball half-century.

Big-name England imports Sophia Dunkley (10 off 12) and Alice Capsey (13 of 12) could not go on after making starts, while Maia Bouchier showed off the improvements she has made to her game since she last appeared for the Stars in WBBL|07, striking a 16-ball 25.

Sutherland hit a towering six in her 34 off 22, but once all five international batters were dismissed with 141 runs on the board, the momentum was sapped from the Stars’ innings.

Several fielding errors and Moloney’s cameo of 10 off five boosted the Stars to 8-165.

The Sixers will host the Thunder in a Sydney Smash on Sunday, while the Stars now travel to Adelaide where they will play the defending champions at Karen Rolton Oval on Saturday night.

Sydney Sixers XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Suzie Bates, Kate Pelle, Ashleigh Gardner (c), Erin Burns, Chloe Tryon, Mathilda Carmichael, Maitlan Brown, Linsey Smith, Kate Peterson, Lauren Cheatle

Melbourne Stars XI: Meg Lanning (c), Sophia Dunkley, Alice Capsey , Annabel Sutherland, Maia Bouchier, Nicole Faltum (wk), Kim Garth, Sasha Moloney, Rhys McKenna, Sophie Day, Milly Illingworth

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