Thunder-struck! Stars crash in face of new-ball assault
A demolition of the Melbournes Stars' top order paved the way for the Sydney Thunder's thumping win at North Sydney Oval for the club to claim a second WBBL crown
Laura Jolly at North Sydney Oval
28 November 2020, 11:30 PM AEST
The Sydney Thunder have claimed their second Rebel WBBL title in stunning fashion, thrashing red-hot favourites Melbourne Stars by seven wickets at North Sydney Oval.
In what had been touted as a battle between the Stars' big-name batting line-up and the Thunder's in-form bowling attack, it was the latter who dominated, restricting the Stars to 9-86.
Your 2020 Champions! 🏆@ThunderBBL #WBBLFinals pic.twitter.com/AXHhtNdsD7— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) November 28, 2020
The Stars then managed to pick up just three wickets as England star Heather Knight (26no from 19) and captain Rachael Haynes (21no from 17) steered the Thunder to victory with 6.2 overs to spare.
Stars captain Meg Lanning won the bat flip and curiously elected to bat for the first time this season, and indeed, for the first time since WBBL|02.
That decision immediately looked a gift for the Thunder as quicks Shabnim Ismail (2-12) and Sammy-Jo Johnson (2-11) left the Stars' strong top-order in tatters with a stunning display in the Powerplay.
Ismail's fiery pace set the tone for the Thunder attack, backed up by the swing of Johnson.
They had Elyse Villani (1 off 11) playing and missing through the first two overs, the pressure paying off when the frustrated Stars opener lobbed a simple catch to Haynes at cover, giving Ismail her first. Johnson then trapped Mignon du Preez (4 off 10) plumb lbw.
Lanning was given a life on naught when Tammy Beaumont put down a simple chance, and another on one when Johnson missed a much trickier opportunity on the boundary, and the world's top-ranked ODI batter looked to stamp her foot on the accelerator when she flicked a Sam Bates delivery off her pads for six.
Yeeeeww the @ThunderBBL girls are PUMPED! 🏠🏆 pic.twitter.com/pA492NDp5M— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) November 28, 2020
Haynes went back to Ismail and Johnson, who remained relentless as they piled the pressure on Lanning, prompting the Stars skipper to lash at a wider ball from Ismail, edging behind to the safe gloves of Tahlia Wilson to be out for 13 from 15 balls.
The Stars' struggles continued as Natalie Sciver (11) holed out to Haynes off the bowling of left-arm spinner Bates, and Annabel Sutherland (20) made a start, striking one sole, towering maximum, before she too holed out, this time to the off-spin of Lauren Smith.
In deep trouble at 6-53, the Stars would not score another boundary for the remaining 7.4 overs of their innings, as regular wickets fell – despite a total of five dropped catches – and Hannah Darlington (1-18), Bates (1-15) and Johnson turned the screws.
England quick Katherine Brunt hung around and added 22 crucial runs but could not find the boundary once in her 27-ball innings, with the Stars' 9-86 the lowest total seen in a WBBL final.
Knowing early wickets were their only hope, Lanning handed the ball to leading quicks Brunt and Sciver, hoping for a miracle.
Brunt ignited some hope when she trapped fellow English import Beaumont lbw for 16, but her opening partner Rachel Trenaman made batting look far simpler than it had earlier in the evening, finding the boundary five times.
Tess Flintoff ended Trenaman's 26-ball innings on 23, and Johnson (1) was bowled by Alana King without inflicting major damage, leaving the Thunder 3-54.
But with just 33 runs required, the cool heads of Knight and Haynes prevailed, with the England captain sealing victory with a six.
Stars XI: Meg Lanning (c), Elyse Villani, Mignon du Preez, Natalie Sciver, Annabel Sutherland, Katherine Brunt, Erin Osborne, Alana King, Tess Flintoff, Nicole Faltum (wk), Sophie Day
Thunder XI: Tammy Beaumont, Rachel Trenaman, Heather Knight, Rachael Haynes (c), Phoebe Litchfield, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Tahlia Wilson (wk), Hannah Darlington, Lauren Smith, Shabnim Ismail, Sam Bates