Perth Scorchers WBBL|07

The Perth Scorchers huddle ahead of taking the field against the Melbourne Stars. (Photo: Perth Scorchers - Twitter)

A Perth Scorchers win off the final ball of the game has all but secured a home final, the team looking forward with optimism based on a collective effort.

The Perth Scorchers proved their worth in the WBBL with a gritty, last-ball finish in their clash with the Melbourne Stars, taking plenty of positives heading into a record seventh finals series.

The team in orange have all but secured a home final with a four-wicket win over the Stars at Adelaide Oval, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing despite the below-par target of 123 runs set by their opponents.

It came down to the final ball of the game, the Scorchers needing one run for victory. With the field up inside the circle, trying to prevent that winning single, a wild throw from Kim Garth at mid on ensured the run was made, and with it, came the win.

To get to that point though, the Scorchers were tidy in the first innings with the ball in hand, captain Sophie Devine electing to bowl after winning the toss.

Although there was seemingly nothing they could do to stop Stars opener Villani with the bat, what the Scorchers were able to achieve was taking the wickets of others down the lineup and restricting their damage.

By bowling a tight line and length, it didn’t allow for any of the Stars batters to properly fire, as besides Villani who top-scored with 84 runs, the remaining eight batters who came to the crease all finished with single-digit scores – and strikerates below 100.

Leg spinner Alana King got the breakthrough with the first ball of her spell, just after the conclusion of the powerplay when she bowled Stars captain Meg Lanning. It was a full delivery from King, but it caught Lanning off guard, the veteran batter playing around the shot as it pitched on middle stump, but turned and crashed into the off stump.

As much as the Stars aimed to get the scoreboard ticking along, the Scorchers continued to find wickets as Devine and Heather Graham also claimed important scalps – both off their bowling, and with their fielding displays, capitalising on some brainfades from the Stars, but also through their own ability and strengths of their games.

In the final over of the first innings, Graham was handed the ball, having figures of 1/13 up until that point that included nine dot balls and one boundary that went for four runs. She was able to claim the wicket of Villani early in the over before, two balls later, removed Anna Lanning, out stumped due to Beth Mooney’s reaction from behind the stumps.

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In the run chase, openers Devine and Mooney each fell for five runs inside the first four overs, leading to the middle order gaining a chance to contribute to the Scorchers score, and the run chase, something that’s eluded them at times based on the dominance of the opening partnership.

Chloe Piparo (27 off 28), Graham (13 off 22), Marizanne Kapp (29* off 25) and Mathilda Carmichael (30 off 20) all made good starts and handy contributions with the bat during the run chase despite the fluctuating odds throughout the game.

The 43-run fifth-wicket partnership between Kapp and Carmichael proved decisive for the Scorchers who still needed 54 runs from 40 balls at that stage, sitting at 4/69 once Piparo was sent back to the dugout.

Carmichael blasted a quick-fire score with five boundaries including back-to-back fours against Kim Garth’s bowling in the 18th over. The allrounder utilised the pull shot to perfection, targeting the off side through deep mid off and fine leg. Kapp was more balanced in her playing style, looking for the ones and twos, only hitting two boundaries but working well in tandem with her partners at the crease.

It was a chance, according to Graham, who earned Player of the Match honours, to see what the middle order was capable of and get some necessary time in the middle that would be beneficial going forward, especially into finals.

“It was pretty tight in the end but I think it was really nice [to] obviously see the middle order go out there and make some runs and contribute today,” Graham told media post-game.

“I think we’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching the top two do their thing so it was quite nice to see the girls in the middle order go out there and do their thing as well.

“I think it was fine [losing those first two wickets] to be completely honest, I think, we’ve got that experience with each other and trust each other so I think, it didn’t matter if they didn’t make runs today, and that showed that we were able to go out there and do the job without them.

“I think the likes of Kappy (Marizanne Kapp) and Tilly (Mathilda Carmichael) at the end there probably haven’t had as much of a hit as they’ve probably liked to but it’s been good that we haven’t needed them so for those two, especially to come out today and knock the ball around and get us into that winning position and across the line that’s really good and probably puts them in a good placing coming into the finals series and gives them some confidence as well.”

Graham commented on the fact that the Scorchers have been involved in many close contests this WBBL|07 season, with two of their games going to a super over, but complimented the side’s ability to control the game and take this momentum of intense matches into the next stage of the season.

“I think we’ve always got confidence in each other so I think for everyone to go out there and have a hit today and bowl pretty well was probably a good little stepping stone towards the finals,” she mentioned.

“I think it’s going to be great to hopefully be able to get the finals back over in Perth. I think the WA crowds have probably missed a little bit of cricket over the last little bit due to COVID and the border restrictions.

“To be able to get a finals series over there would be massive not only for us but for family as well who probably haven’t seen too much cricket… so it’ll be great to have everyone’s support.”

The Perth Scorchers take on the bottom-placed Sydney Sixers in their final regular season game of WBBL|07 before finals at Adelaide Oval tomorrow from 9:45am local time.

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