19/04/2024
Rachel Priest Hobart Hurricanes WBBL|07

Rachel Priest hit a half-century in the Hobart Hurricanes' thrilling win. (Photo: WBBL/Twitter)

A new opening pair for the Hobart Hurricanes set them up for a large total with captain Rachel Priest scoring a half-century as the side was able to hold on for a thrilling win.

The Hobart Hurricanes chose a new opening pair in their game against the Perth Scorchers, and to great effect as captain Rachel Priest scored a half-century in a thrilling two-run victory.

In Hobart’s previous eight completed matches within the WBBL|07 season, it had seen a certain top order of opening batters set to walk to the crease and start the team’s innings – Rachel Priest and Ruth Johnston.

With Priest and Johnston at the crease, their biggest first-wicket partnership came from the side’s first game of the season against the Melbourne Renegades when 28 runs were scored before Johnston fell in the fifth over. Since then, the first wicket always fell within four overs, and the partnership never being above 20 – with five single-digit partnerships.

However, Priest and the Hurricanes coaching staff took a different avenue with the opening pair against the Scorchers, opting for Naomi Stalenberg – who usually bats at number six – to be promoted to the top of the order. And it worked to great effect.

Priest and Stelanberg put up 40 runs before the latter was clean bowled by Alana King, trying to sweep it to the off-side of the WACA. However, it was the Hurricanes’ highest opening partnership of WBBL|07, leading to the decision paying off – the wicket also coming after the powerplay had ended.

Priest herself went on to score a half-century to compliment her century against the Melbourne Stars in the side’s third match of the season. She finished on 54 off 48 balls, not connecting as well as she’d hoped on a short ball, top-edging it to Chamari Atapattu at mid-off, off Taneale Peschel’s bowling.

The Hurricanes captain utilised the slog sweep the most of any other shot, targeting the leg side boundary at deep mid-wicket, scoring 19 runs of her total score in that region of the ground. The cut shot was also widely used to score behind point as she amassed five fours and three sixes along the way.

After Priest departed in the 14th over, Mignon du Preez (23 off 20) and Molly Strano (15* off 10) gave handy contributions with the bat for Hobart’s score to trickle to 8/137 at the completion of the first innings.

Speaking post-game, Priest said that with her own game, it was quite nervous at times, especially when the Scorchers couldn’t hold onto their chances, or costly errors interfered with claiming her wicket at an earlier time.

“I gave a couple of chances today, obviously the catch at point that was dropped as well [as a front-foot no ball] but look, that’s the way that I bat,” Priest said.

“I’m gonna be aggressive and somedays those things come off and somedays they don’t and it went my way today so I’ve almost got to take that.”

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With a target set, it came time for the Hurricanes bowlers to restrict the damaging Scorchers pairing of Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney and early on, showing they were up for the task. Mooney – who averaged 45.50 departed for one run and Devine, while looking lively – finding and clearing the boundary – both fell inside the first four overs.

Priest spoke about the need to identify how much damage the pairing could inflict on the game and how to best limit that to get into a good position, praising the bowling unit for their efforts across the whole innings – but importantly, at the beginning of the second innings.

“We spoke before this game that they have a quality opening pair and we’ve seen [in] this tournament that they’ve had some huge partnerships,” Priest told.

“To get [Beth] Mooney out cheaply, I thought Kingy (Alana King) just bowled absolutely beautifully and she got a swing and then Soph [Devine] was certainly looking dangerous as she obviously does and so for Molly to come on and take her on was huge for us as well.”

Overall, all bar one of Hobart’s bowlers claimed a wicket as the run chase went down to the wire. With Perth needing seven runs from the final six balls of the game, Priest handed Nicola Carey – the side’s equal-leading wicket-taker of WBBL|07 – the ball to close out the contest.

“Obviously it got a little bit closer than we would’ve liked at the end but, for the girls to hold their nerve, and I think for Nic [Carey] to bowl that way in the final over and hold her nerve, like it’s not easy and she really showed her class today,” Priest said.

With the Hurricanes picking up their third win of WBBL|07 and breaking a three-game losing streak, Priest admitted the season hadn’t gone to plan for the team who hasn’t played finals since WBBL|02.

Despite this, Priest hopes this close contest shows they have fight in them to get on top, even in thrilling finishes – and will need to compete to this level again, facing the Scorchers at the same ground tomorrow.

“I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know our season hasn’t gone the way we’d planned so far but to come out here and get a really close victory like that against such a quality side is obviously a real boost for us,” she said.

“We know that we’ve had a good win today but we have to start everything again tomorrow. We know how good this team is so we’ll be looking to win the game again tomorrow and hopefully we can take some confidence out of today and do that.”

The Hobart Hurricanes return to the WACA tomorrow, November 7 to take on the same opponent, the Perth Scorchers from 1:50pm local time.

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