Defending just 125, the Adelaide Strikers’ vaunted bowling attack delivered in a pulsating WBBL|09 final against the Brisbane Heat
Adelaide Strikers have held their nerve in a final-ball epic to seal back-to-back WBBL titles in front of a record home crowd, defending 5-125 to deny the Brisbane Heat at Adelaide Oval.
The Heat needed five to win from the last ball with new batter Nicola Hancock on strike, but the No.10 could not pierce the field to find the required boundary as the hosts clung on for a three-run win.
In a decider that had been billed as a showdown between the season’s most damaging batting unit and the league’s strongest bowling attack, it was fitting the match went down to the wire.
Jess Jonassen's side needed 13 runs from the final over with Amelia Kerr the set batter, as Strikers skipper Tahlia McGrath tossed the ball to Amanda-Jade Wellington.
The leg-spinner, who thrives in big moment, stood up to the challenge, with two singles followed by the wicket of Georgia Voll.
In a late twist, Mikayla Hinkley was dropped over the rope for six leaving the equation five needed from two balls, but she holed out on the penultimate delivery before Wellington sealed victory.
Earlier, Hancock claimed 3-23 to restrict the Strikers to 5-125, with Laura Wolvaardt (39 from 33) and McGrath (38 from 34) leading the way with bat in hand for the hosts.
The Strikers took out the trophy in front of a 12,379-strong Adelaide Oval crowd, the biggest WBBL crowd ever in the South Australian capital and the second largest since the WBBL moved to a standalone window after the 15,000-strong Perth crowd who attended the WBBL|07 final.
Adelaide become the third WBBL club to win back-to-back titles, joining the Sydney Sixers (WBBL|02 and |03) and the Heat (WBBL|04 and |05).
With 126 the target, Heat opener Grace Harris (15 off 18) was handed an early life when she as dropped on 13 by Jemma Barsby at slip.
But the spinner got her own back, with Harris scoring just two more runs before she was caught on the boundary off Barsby’s bowling soon after.
With the 32-run opening stand broken, the Strikers continued the squeeze and Wellington entered the fray to have Georgia Redmayne caught at midwicket for a run-a-ball 22, leaving the Heat 2-43 after 7.2 overs.
And as tensions grew while Amelia Kerr (30no off 32) and Mignon du Preez (13 off 20) chipped away at their target, Strikers captain McGrath took the ball in the 13th over and in the space of two deliveries swung the game back in the hosts’ favour.
She bowled du Preez, bringing the biggest danger in the Heat’s middle order – Laura Harris – to the crease.
McGrath then conjured the biggest roar yet from the Adelaide crowd as she produced a perfect yorker to bowl Harris for a golden duck.
With the Heat 4-62 needing 64 from 46 balls, newly crowned WBBL|09 Young Gun Charli Knott (20 off 14) joined Kerr and found the boundary four times to ease some of the pressure.
Megan Schutt retuned to the attack and disposed of Knott, bringing Jess Jonassen to the middle as the Heat took the power surge with 26 off 18 required.
After Darcie Brown leaked just six off the 17th, Schutt struck an almighty blow bowling Jonassen with the first of the 19th, setting up a grandstand finish.
Earlier, Hancock did the damage with the ball after Strikers captain McGrath won the flip and elected to set the Heat a target.
The 28-year-old quick struck the first significant blow in the second over when she had Katie Mack, the Strikers’ leading run scorer of WBBL|09, chopping on for three.
McGrath joined opener Wolvaardt in a 66-run stand – which would turn out to be the Strikers’ biggest of the night – and the pair laid a promising foundation for the hosts at 1-63 after eight overs.
But the wicket of McGrath, who was worked over by Hancock and then bowled for 38 one ball before drinks, completely changed the momentum of the innings.
From 2-71 at the halfway mark the Strikers only added 54 more runs.
Just one boundary was scored across the next 6.5 overs following McGrath’s dismissal, and during that time Wolvaardt was out stumped on 39 advancing on spinner Jonassen (1-19), and Bridget Patterson (11 off 17) was bogged down before holing to give Georgia Voll (1-19) her first.
Maddie Penna (9 from 12) was then caught on the boundary, with the Strikers losing 3-13 in 18 balls.
Georgia Adams (6no) and Wellington (9no) put on 17 runs from the final 2.3 overs to see the Strikers to 5-125.
The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat defeated Sydney Thunder by 44 runs
The Challenger: Brisbane Heat defeated Perth Scorchers by 67 runs
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