Sixers take early lead in WBBL07, but look far from unbeatable

Despite Tasmania being shut down for the weekend due to a covid scare, the first five games of WBBL07 were completed, albeit with no crowds allowed. 

All five games were tight, with all going into the last over, and Scorchers v Heat only being settled after a Super Over.

Here are the results from Week One:-

Stars 99/1 lost to Sixers 100/1 (10.2 overs) (11 over game)

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Hurricanes 121 all out lost to Renegades 125/4 (19.2 overs)
 
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Strikers 140/7 beat Thunder 110 all out (19.2 overs)

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Hurricanes 125/9 lost to Sixers 129/5 (19.3 overs)

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Scorchers 137/7 tied with Heat 137/9, but then won the Super Over – 

Heat 13/2 v Scorchers 14/0 (4 balls)

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Strikers took the two victories most people expected with a comfortable win over Stars in an eleven over fixture, but a less than comfortable win over Canes, even though they were only chasing 126 to win. 

Ellyse Villani (54*) looked in good form for the Stars as they posted 99/1, but Alyssa Healy’s 50 off 24 balls, including four 4s in an over off both Tess Flintoff and Annabel Sutherland, saw the Sixers most of the way to their first victory. 

In game two Sixers restricted the Canes to 125/9 and, despite losing Healy early, looked to be cruising, needing a run a ball at 72/2 after 11 overs, but Shafali Verma and Nicole Bolton allowed the run rate to creep up to 8s. But Tayla Vlaeminck then conceded 15 off the 18th over leaving just 9 runs from 12 balls. Molly Strano (3/19) removed Verma in the next over and the equation got to 7 off 8 before Ange Reakes hit a beautiful lofted cover drive for 4. It meant two off the last over, but even that was a struggle, as Reakes was bowled, but a Carey wide relieved the tension, before Maitlan Brown added the coup de grace. 

That made it 0/2 for Canes, who had lost on Saturday to Renegades. Canes could only post an under-par 121 all out as they lost wickets consistently with Georgia Wareham the main beneficiary with 3/13 off her 4. Renegades cruised to 90/1, but then lost three quick wickets. A steepling cow-corner 6 from Harmanpreet Kaur in the 19th over steadied Renegades’ nerves and they got over the line in the next over.

Strikers opened up their campaign with a convincing 30 run win over a depleted Thunder line-up. Having already lost skipper Rachel Haynes, spinners Erin Osborne and Linsey Smith were also unavailable for Thunder’s first game of WBBL07. Chasing 140 they ran out of puff in the 90s losing 5 wickets for 6 runs. New Strikers’ skipper Tahlia McGrath had a good day with bat (42) and ball (3/17).

And so to Scorchers v Heat. Scorchers batted first and posted a par 137/7 with Beth Mooney playing the anchor, but with few supporters. Jess Jonassen picked up 3/16. In reply Heat were breezing to victory one wicket down and needing just 51 off 62 balls, but the wheels fell off when they lost Jonassen and Harris in quick succession in the 90s. Off-spinner Lilly Mills took a wicket and conceded just one run off the 17th over, which left Heat needing 20 off the last three overs with Saffers Anneke Bosch and Nadine de Klerk at the wicket. The equation became 12 from 12, but 19th over nerves got the better of them. 10 were needed from the last with Mills to bowl. Five came from the first two balls, but wickets fell from the third and the fifth and three were still needed from the last. Nicola Hancock pumped the ball to long on and the diminutive Poonam Yadav should have been run out by several metres as she came back for the tieing second run, but Mills could not gather the ball. Into the Super Over.

Scorchers threw the ball to Kapp, despite the fact that she is not a death overs bowler, and she proceeded to pitch it halfway down the track, and Bosch proceeded to hit her for eleven runs off the last four balls. Twelve seemed a good score, but Jess Jonassen’s chest-high first ball to Sophie Devine was swatted for 6 and her third pitched, but was dispatched over long on for 6 more, to end the game. Heat will be kicking themselves.

Here are the next four games which are all going to be pretty difficult to call…..

Stars batting looked in decent order against Sixers, but their bowling was a bit toothless. Canes will be buoyed by their strong showing against Sixers, but their batting looks thin. If Stars bat first they will win.

The second game on Tuesday is Heat v Scorchers rematch. Heat should have won the first game; then they should have lost before the Super Over; then they scored enough to win the Super Over; but then they still lost! So who knows second time around?

Renegades v Strikers looks intriguing too. Renegades look to have good domestic depth, plus the punch of Rodrigues and Kaur. The same can be said of Strikers, who won their first game without any significant contributions from Dane van Niekerk or Laura Wolvaardt. Who will step up in this one? Strikers might just edge it.

Stars are then out again on Wednesday against table-toppers Sixers. You’d have to make Sixers favourites, but if Stars bat first and put a few runs on the board Sixers might wobble, although we doubt it.

The other big question is whether we will be able to watch these games in the UK? They are not being shown on Sky, but we hope they may be available online at the CA website. We shall see…..or maybe we won’t?

Martin Davies
18/X/21 

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