The Sydney Thunder travelled to Adelaide to face the Strikers, with the hosts looking to maintain their unbeaten streak at Karen Rolton Oval in the 2023 WBBL season.
It was destined to be a good contest with the Strikers and the Thunder sitting 3rd and 4th respectively on the WBBL table coming into the match.
It was the home team that got away to a fast start, being able to take early wickets and restrict the flow of runs through Zimbabwean leg-spinner Anesu Mushangwe, who got the ball rolling with an extremely rare double wicket maiden.
The wickets included key players in Tahlia Wilson (7) and Phoebe Litchfield (0). At that stage the Thunder were stumbling at 2-16 after the first three overs.
Things didn’t get much better for Sydney as they continued to accumulate dot balls and struggle to pierce the in-field. When Chamari Athapathuthu was dismissed for a fighting knock of 43, the Thunder were in major trouble at 4-67 after 13 overs.
Handy late order contributions from Marizanne Kapp (27) and talented youngster Anika Learoyd (27*), helped the Thunder scratch together 118 runs to defend and at least give their bowlers something to defend.
However, it was largely the Strikers innings with spin playing a major part, as Jemma Barsby (1-25 off four overs), Mushangwe (2-29 off four) and Amanda-Jade Wellington (0-18 off four) proved very difficult to get away.
The Strikers approached their run chase in relatively subdued fashion, but importantly got through the opening power play without losing a wicket.
After looking comfortable at the crease, run machine Katie Mack was dismissed for 26, bringing captain Tahlia McGrath out to the middle.
Unfortunately, the flamboyant all-rounder was bowled by a beautiful off-spinning delivery on her first ball.
What looked like a straightforward chase minutes earlier, had now became a little more tricky as the Strikers slumped to 2-44 in the eighth over.
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Opener Laura Wolvaardt found an abled partnership in the form of wicketkeeper Bridget Patterson, with the two ticking over the strike and sending anything loose to the boundary.
The two showed their class and experience, putting together a strong partnership to all but take the game away from the Thunder when Wolvaardt was sent packing for a well made 47, with the hosts requiring just 22 runs for victory with four overs remaining.
There was slight unease when Madeline Penna was dismissed off the bowling of Athapaththu for a golden duck, before Patterson hit four boundaries off a Sammy-Jo Johnson over to put the game to bed.
The incoming Danielle Gibson smacked a boundary for win it, as the Strikers cruised to a comfortable 6 wicket win, dismantling one of the favourites of the competition, to keep their unblemished home record intact.
South African international Laura Wolvarrdt was named Player of the Match for her important anchoring innings in the chase.
Wolvaardt told The Inner Sanctum that it was a job well set up by the bowlers, and allowed herself and the other batters to just tap the ball around.
“I think as a batting unit when you only have to chase 118 that’s always nice, definitely set up well by our bowlers, we had a couple of maidens in there as well which doesn’t happen too often in T20 cricket,” Wolvaardt said.
“And yeah, just a nice calm chase I think, I think we were just right on the rate the whole time so good game.”
She also thought change of pace proved decisive in preventing the Thunder to such a low total.
“I think the cutters were pretty effective when our bowlers used them, we used a lot of off pace and change of pace pretty well on this wicket,’ she said.
After a bit of a lean patch in form, ‘Wolfy’ said the innings was important and will give her confidence moving forward towards the finals.
“It’s taken me a bit to adjust to the conditions over here, but overall good cricket wicket. I think [it’s been a] tough season so far, so nice to come back with some runs,” she said.
“I think it was a nice situation to be in, to just be able to cruise along at six an over, it will do me a world of good for my confidence and nice to put on a couple of partnerships with Bridget [Patterson] at the end, and then Katie [Mack] upfront as well.”
The Sydney Thunder will look to bounce back against the Perth Scorchers at home on Saturday, while the Strikers will hope to continue on their momentum against the Sydney Sixers in Sydney, which has seen the Strikers win five of their last six games.