Renegades lie in wait for red-hot Strikers
The Melbourne Renegades are boosted by a return to full fitness for Harmanpreet Kaur while the Adelaide Strikers enter the match fresh from a thumping win, but only one will reach the WBBL Final
25 November 2021, 08:10 AM AEST
The Melbourne Renegades will be confronted by an Adelaide Strikers side riding a wave of momentum in tonight's Weber WBBL Challenger final.
The Strikers are coming off Wednesday's eight-wicket smashing of the Brisbane Heat, headlined by Amanda-Jade Wellington's record 5-8, with a spot in Saturday's final against the Perth Scorchers at Optus Stadium on the line.
The Renegades have not played since Saturday and have had the benefit of extra rest and preparation, but Wellington said on Wednesday evening she was confident the Strikers could back up their dominant display.
"Momentum is key in tournaments like these," she said following the Eliminator final.
"If we can have a win tonight and a win tomorrow, then we'll go into the final with so much energy behind us."
The Renegades, who would have been watching the Eliminator closely, are hoping to turn around a lacklustre end to the regular season which saw them narrowly defeat the Sydney Thunder before defeats to the Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat.
They have named a full-strength squad, with Harmanpreet Kaur confirming she had recovered from the bout of illness that rendered her unable to bat during their defeat to the Heat last Saturday.
"I was not feeling well that day but luckily I've had four or five days off and I'm feeling much better," Kaur said on Wednesday as she declared herself ready to go.
Kaur was named WBBL|07's player of the tournament on Wednesday, becoming the first Indian player to receive the honour after leading the Renegades' batting and bowling tallies at the end of the regular season.
Earlier this week, Renegades captain Sophie Molineux hailed her bowling attack for how they had stepped up since losing key leg-spinner Georgia Wareham to a serious knee injury, and pointed to the T20 nous of new coach Simon Helmot for helping steer the side into the finals after they finished seventh last season.
"Wolfie's pretty irreplaceable but I've been really proud of the way that the girls have stood up," Molineux said.
"We've found some bowlers that we've probably weren't planning to play and getting four overs out of girls like Rhiann O'Donnell and Courtney Webb.
"Simon Helmot's a bundle of energy and he just gives the girls so much confidence.
"He's been great for this squad, with the way he approaches the group and makes everyone feel comfortable and confident in their own game.
"He's had a lot of experience around the world in finals series, so he's going to be great for us this week, just to lean on him and get comfortable and confident around him."
When is it?
Tonight, Thursday November 25 from 7.10pm AEDT
How can I watch?
The Challenger will be broadcast on free-to-air television on 7Mate, while Fox Cricket will simulcast the match, which can also be streamed via Kayo on the Cricket Australia Live app. For those who like their cricket served up on the radio, ABC Grandstand will cater to all your listening needs.
Cricket.com.au and the CA Live app will have live scores and highlights of EVERY major moment, as well as replays of every wicket and every boundary in the match centre, plus web, video and social coverage.
Grab your tickets now! Tickets went on sale on Monday morning and you can buy them HERE.
Melbourne Renegades: Sophie Molineux (c), Makinley Blows,Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ellie Falconer, Holly Ferling, Poppy Gardner, Ella Hayward, Eve Jones (Eng), Harmanpreet Kaur (Ind), Carly Leeson,Rhiann O’Donnell, Alex Price, Jemimah Rodrigues (Ind), Courtney Webb
Adelaide Strikers: Tahlia McGrath (c), Jemma Barsby, Darcie Brown, Sarah Coyte, Meagan Dixon, Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Dane van Niekerk (SA), Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Laura Wolvaardt (SA)
Form (most recent first)
Melbourne Renegades: LLWNRWWLWWWWNRLW
Adelaide Strikers: WLWLWWWWLLLLNRWW
Honours were split between the teams during the regular season. The Renegades would not look back fondly on their first encounter, which was marred by a serious knee injury to their star leg-spinner Georgia Wareham.
Tahlia McGrath hit an unbeaten 50 from 39 balls as the Strikers chased the Renegades' 6-126 with eight wickets in hand and 15 balls to spare, calling a dominant all-round performance from the team in blue.
Second time around the Renegades beat the Strikers on their home turf, claiming a six-wicket win at Karen Rolton Oval thanks to a blazing knock from India superstar Harmanpreet Kaur.
South Africa stars Dane van Niekerk (62 from 47 balls) and Laura Wolvaardt (47 from 35) fired the Strikers to a season-best 5-160, but Kaur's unbeaten 73 from 46 deliveries hauled in the target with two balls to spare and six wickets in hand.
Leading run scorers
Melbourne Renegades: Harmanpreet Kaur (399 at 66.5, SR 135.25) and Jemimah Rodrigues (317 at 28.8, SR 116.11)
Adelaide Strikers: Katie Mack (476 at 68, SR 118), Laura Wolvaardt (347 runs at 28.91, SR 123.92)
Leading wicket takers
Melbourne Renegades: Harmanpreet Kaur (15 at 20.4, eco 7.46) and Ellie Falconer (10 at 26.2)
Adelaide Strikers: Amanda-Jade Wellington (21 wickets at 15.47, eco 6.63), Darcie Brown (17 wickets at 17.35, eco 6.27)
Strengths and weaknesses
It goes without saying that Harmanpreet Kaur is the key with bat and ball for the Renegades. The newly crowned player of the tournament has hit a tournament-high 18 sixes and claimed 15 wickets this season, leading her side in both facets of the game.
Molineux has also been crucial with her left-arm spin in the Powerplay, taking 10 wickets and maintaining an economy rate of 5.64, but they have at times looked a bowler short since the injury to Wareham, calling on players who previously played part-time roles to deliver four overs.
Strikers opener Katie Mack is in the form of her life, becoming the first domestic player to pass 350 runs in a season for the club. Her recent consistency is allowing South African Dane van Niekerk to play with freedom, knowing not only is her partner in red-hot form, but she has Laura Wolvaardt, Tahlia McGrath, Bridget Patterson and Maddie Penna to follow.
With the ball, the Strikers have three bowlers in the top 10 wicket-takers, and Darcie Brown keeps finding her levels in her game. Combined with the economical Schutt, they are a perfect match for the Heat openers in the Powerplay.
Consistency has also been an issue for the Strikers, who started the tournament well, endured a tough streak of four losses, then regained momentum at the back end of the tournament.
The Eliminator: Adelaide Strikers beat Brisbane Heat by eight wickets
The Challenger: Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers | Adelaide Oval | November 25, 6.40pm local (7.10pm AEDT)
The Final: Perth Scorchers v TBC | Optus Stadium | November 27 at 4.10pm local (7.10pm AEDT)
Grab your tickets or tune in on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo, the CA Live app or listen on ABC radio