The Adelaide Strikers will enter their first-ever Rebel WBBL finals with a 'nothing-to-lose' mentality, according to skipper Suzie Bates.
A pair of losses to top team - and Friday's semi-final opponent - Sydney Sixers at Hurstville Oval threw a spanner in the works for the South Australian side, which slipped to fourth place on the ladder after Perth Scorchers defeated the Melbourne Renegades in their clash at Camberwell Sports Ground.
The few hours following the game were a nervous wait for the Strikers, who were sweating on the outcome of the Sydney Thunder-Brisbane Heat game at Allan Border Field, with the Heat a chance to leapfrog them into fourth spot.
But the Heat collapsed trying to chase quick runs to elevate themselves above the Strikers and eventually were bowled out two runs short of a win.
There would have been a collective sigh of relief from the Strikers as the result came through, guaranteeing the former cellar-dwellers a place in the semi-finals.
"It's just tough, knowing that we had to get a win out of those two games," Bates said in an interview on the cricket.com.au live stream after Sunday’s seven-wicket loss to the Sixers.
"If we deserve to make it, we do.
"I think if that's the case, then it's anyone's tournament.
"We've talked about it - once you get to semi-finals cricket, anyone's in the game.
"And I think it'll be a sigh of relief (if we make it) - we've got nothing to lose once we get there."
WBBL|03 has seen a stark turnaround in fortunes for the Strikers.
They finished the inaugural season of the competition in seventh place, with six wins to their credit. A tough second year in the competition saw them slip to last place, winning just three games in WBBL|02.
But the Strikers landed a huge recruit and new captain in the lead-up to the season, signing New Zealand international and former Scorcher Bates.
As well as the leadership and experience she brought to the group, she made an immediate impact, belting a century in her second match for her new team.
She made 420 runs this season - far eclipsing her previous returns of of 220 and 310 for the Scorchers - and took six wickets, putting in some sterling performances not only with bat and ball, but also in the field where she held onto 11 catches.
Around her, the young Strikers matured and their output grew, while some of the pressure was taken off more experienced heads in the line-up.
Tabatha Saville - who saw minimal time at the crease in her debut season last summer – scored 110 runs and put in a couple of match-winning performances, while Alex Price continued to improve as a off-spinner, claiming seven wickets and improving her economy rate and average.
Wicketkeeper Tegan McPharlin was swift behind the stumps, with nine stumpings for the season and two catches, while Australia swing bowler Megan Schutt carried in excellent form from the Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes Series. She claimed 11 wickets with an economy rate of 5.75 and also put in a few memorable cameos with the bat, cheekily putting her hand up to be considered an allrounder.
New Zealand allrounder Sophie Devine also enjoyed her best season in the WBBL, making 348 runs and taking 15 wickets - her best return on both fronts in three seasons to date.
She was brilliant again on Saturday, making 70 off just 45 deliveries before being upstaged by an Alyssa Healy century.
After the match, Devine said although the result didn't go their way, the Strikers could take comfort from the fight they showed to drag the match out to the 20th over of the Sixers' innings, with the home team eventually winning with four balls to spare.
"I thought we did fantastic to take it to the 20th over - they looked like they were going to clean it up in about the 15th," Devine said in an interview on the cricket.com.au live stream after Saturday's match.
"For us to hold on 'til the 20th, I guess that shows the grit and character we've got within the team."
The Strikers will take on the Sixers in a Rebel WBBL semi-final at Adelaide Oval from 2.40pm ACDT (3.10pm AEDT) on Friday.