Melbourne Stars allrounder Kim Garth has delivered a record-breaking spell of bowling to contribute to the team’s 12-run win over the Sydney Thunder, taking three wickets for zero runs from her first three overs.
Despite the contest itself being low-scoring, on a new wicket at UTAS Stadium in Launceston in which the teams had to take a while to adjust to, the Stars’ first innings score of 7/108 seemed like it was well below par.
In a rematch of the WBBL|06 final, the Stars took some time to get going with the bat with Annabel Sutherland the first to depart, trapped LBW by Issy Wong for three runs off seven deliveries. Two overs later, the new batter to the crease, captain Meg Lanning was also sent back to the sheds – again off the bowling of Wong -, falling for six runs off eight balls, leaving the Stars to see themselves sitting at a paltry 2/18 from the opening six overs.
A 63-run partnership between Elyse Villani and Maia Bouchier steadied things for the Stars as they entered the final five overs of the innings, however, wickets started tumbling, leading to a halt to the run-scoring capacity exhibited by the pair.
Bouchier (31 off 28) was caught off the bowling of Lauren Smith, the Stars still 3/81 with 27 deliveries remaining to bump up the score. Villani and Garth combined for a 15-run stand before the latter holing out to shallow deep midwicket, departing having scored nine runs.
From Garth’s wicket, Melbourne lost 4/10, but a highlight came after the first ball of the final over with Villani scoring a single to bring up her half-century – her 23rd in WBBL history -, the innings eventually coming to an end on the second-last ball when she skied a ball and was caught by Deepti Sharma at point.
It wasn’t always easy for Villani, who took some time to get into the innings, and was lacking the power shots that she’s capable of – this half-century also marking her slowest-ever 50.
On the way to the milestone, she hit three fours as she targeted to on-side and behind the keeper at fine leg, capitalising on some misfields and dropped catches.
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Having set the target of 109 runs for the Thunder to chase, the Stars got off to the best possible start thanks to Garth’s opening over. Her line, length, and speed trapped the opposition batters from playing truly at the ball.
In the first over of the second innings, Garth had Tahlia Wilson out for a duck off three balls, caught at gully by Maddy Darke, and had her second wicket in as many deliveries when Phoebe Litchfield departed for a golden duck leg before. Unfortunately for her, there was no hatrick to be celebrated as Corinne Hall shied away from playing at the ball.
Garth closed out the over without conceding a run, and this form continued throughout her second and third overs – each coming in the powerplay. In her second over the afternoon, she claimed her third scalp – Hall for three runs, edging to Lanning at slip. The 25-year-old Irishwoman became the first bowler in WBBL history to bowl three consecutive maidens.
Although Garth was 3/0 off three overs, she would finish with figures of 3/11 following Lanning’s choice to have her bowl the final over the game where she conceded a boundary to start, before multiple singles and extras added to the Thunder’s chase.
Melbourne Stars captain Meg Lanning praised the fightback shown by her side all throughout the encounter, paying special focus on Villani and Garth as two important players who helped them over the line in the end.
“It was a little bit slow, the wicket… if you’re able to hit some good areas, it made it pretty difficult to score so I think the Thunder bowled extremely well up front,” Lanning told Fox Cricket post-game.
“I guess it’s a pretty true story that you don’t know what a pitch is like until two teams have batted on it and to be able to scrap to that score, I thought Ellyse Villani was great and then to take some early wickets to really put them under the pump.
“To be able to fight our way back into that game is a great effort. I thought Kim Garth set the tone with the ball and at the halfway mark we still thought we were in the game.
“We thought it was a competitive total and if we were able to start well, we’d be in it, so certainly nice to get that win and it gives us a little bit of momentum heading into the next couple of games.”
On speaking about giving the ball to Garth for the final over, despite the perfect economical figures she currently held, Lanning remained firm in her decision, saying the medium-pacer earned the chance to close out her full four overs.
“I don’t think she would’ve spoken to me again if I didn’t give her a fourth over so I just want to keep her happy,” Lanning joked.
“The spin did do a pretty good throughout the middle there so yeah, it did cross my mind as to whether we should keep going with that through the middle but I thought she sort of deserved that last over and she bowls really well at the end anyway so it’s not like she was bowling out of position.”
The Melbourne Stars have a short turnaround before their next game, facing the Hobart Hurricanes on November 27 at UTAS Stadium from 4:50 pm.
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