Lilly Mills Perth Scorchers WBBL|07

Lilly Mills took two wickets for the Perth Scorchers. (Photo: WBBL - Twitter)

With power-duo Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney falling early, it gave a chance for the rest of the Perth Scorchers lineup to make some runs, and almost chase down the total set by the Hurricanes.

The middle order of the Perth Scorchers’ lineup was able to find some much-needed runs after the openers fell early, almost clinging onto a close, hard-fought victory.

With the often-destructive pair of Sophie Devine (25 off 15) and Beth Mooney (one off five) at the top of the order opening the batting for the Scorchers – especially after their previous 165-run stand – falling inside the first four overs of the innings, it came time for others to step up in their place.

The result meant that the following players in the lineup were free to spend three quarters of the innings in the middle, something that’s been scarce for them throughout this season so far.

Chloe Piparo was elevated to first drop, the usual bottom-order batter guiding her way to 20 runs off 24 balls which included two fours before being stumped, charging down the wicket and reacting late to turn and ground her bat, off the bowling of Amy Smith.

The score from Piparo was her second equal-highest of the season after scoring 29 runs against the Sixers two games ago and her fourth-highest overall in her WBBL career.

The fourth and fifth batters listed for the Scorchers were Chamari Athapaththu and Heather Graham, who both used their time at the crease to great effect, each batting above a strike rate of 100, and each claiming new season-high scores in the process.

For Sri Lankan batter Athupaththu, who didn’t appear in WBBL|06, but had previously suited up for the Melbourne Renegades throughout WBBL|03 and WBBL|05, her score against the Hurricanes was her second-highest of her WBBL career.

Athupaththu totalled 33 runs to her score in today’s contest, edging the 20 runs she scored against the Strikers a couple of weeks ago. Her highest-ever WBBL score still stands at 42 runs, which was made in her WBBL debut with the Renegades against the Thunder in December 2017.

She was eventually sent back to the sheds after Naomi Stalenberg took a leaping catch off the bowling of Belinda Vakarewa, the batter trying to pull a shot behind backward square leg but couldn’t get enough of a rise to become out of the reach of the fielder. However, she found the boundary with ease, collecting five fours in her innings, and identifying an intent to hit to all corners of the ground.

Graham also took a lot out of being able to contribute with the bat and be out in the middle earlier and for longer than in previous outings, finding her way to a season-high 24 runs off 19 balls. While it didn’t come close to her WBBL-best score of 44 runs against the Hurricanes from WBBL|04, she still took her chances today.

Her innings got off the mark with a single from the first ball she faced but didn’t take much longer to find the boundary for four, one of two for the game. She also launched a six, her first maximum of the season, when she connected on a Molly Strano-bowled ball, hitting it over the boundary at cover.

She fell LBW to Nicola Carey, shifting across her crease as she looked to loft the ball over mid-on however, didn’t time the swing well enough as the ball struck her pad, looking to crash into middle and leg stump.

Piparo, Athupaththu and Graham all fell after the 10-over mark drinks break, leaving the remainder of the run chase in Alana King’s hands as Marzianne Kapp (nine off eight), Mathilda Carmichael (two off three) and Taneale Peschel (two off two) fell cheaply around her.

King managed 12* off 10 deliveries as the run chase neared its conclusion and the margin creeping closer however those wickets, and being stuck at the other end of the wicket hampered the Scorchers’ potential for big hits needed for the win.

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Post-game, King told the Perth Scorchers website that it was a hollow feeling to come so close and not finish it with the result they wanted, but that there were plenty of things to work on with a quick turnaround.

“[It was] disappointing not to get the win. I think our goal was to try to take it as deep as possible even with a cluster of wickets, which we did but we just didn’t capitalise on the ones we probably should’ve,” King said.

“It’s just the way it goes I guess, sometimes they’ll come off, sometimes they won’t and I think you want to at least get some bat on ball but look, they bowled well in the end and we just came off second-best.

“There’s plenty of positives to take away, definitely things we can improve on, especially in the field but our ground fielding, that’s not up to our standards I’d say. [It’s] great that Millsy’s (Lilly Mills) still taking poles and and Kappy’s {Marzianne Kapp) back in the wickets column.”

Continuing to speak highly of first-year Scorcher Mills, a fellow off-spinner, King says she enjoys working in tandem, each of them leading the wicket-taking at the club so far this season after collecting two each against the Hurricanes.

“It’s been awesome with Millsy, a genuine off-spinner who turns the ball into a right-hander which is always handy so we work really well together, I’m taking away, she’s taking it in,” King responded.

“This partnership we’ve built, first time really playing with Millsy and I think she’s been phenomenal. I think this is what happens when you get given an opportunity and she’s taken it with both hands and good on her, she’s been a real, key wicket-taker for us.”

With such a thrilling finish, King says the momentum they felt towards the end of the chase is still going to carry the side into the next fixture – a repeat of today’s encounter against the Hurricanes at the same ground.

“We’ve got to regroup really quickly cause we’ve got the same opposition tomorrow so we’ll reflect and learn from our mistakes hopefully,” King outlined.

“I think we speak about it with T20 cricket, you need as much momentum as possible even in this, it’s quite a small tournament as in it’s very condensed so you’ve got to try to get as much momentum as you can, especially [towards] the pointy end of the season.”

The Perth Scorchers will hope their fortunes change when they return to the WACA tomorrow, November 7 to face the Hobart Hurricanes again from 1:50pm local time.

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