The Adelaide Strikers set a large total for the Melbourne Stars to chase, assisted by half centuries to Katie Mack and Madeline Penna who combined for a 118-run partnership.
The Strikers were on the backfoot early when South African international Dane van Niekerk fell for a golden duck off the third ball of the match, bowled by Kim Garth.
Fellow opener Mack, and the Strikers other South African import, first-drop Laura Wolvaardt steadied things throughout the remainder of the powerplay.
Mack (89* off 67) got to work from the third over, hitting at least two fours from the third to fifth overs to push her score along and start building Adelaide’s total. Wolvaardt hit her first boundary, a drive through point for four, just before the end of the powerplay.
Adelaide’s 50 runs came up when Mack hit a four – her seventh of the match so far – with a pull shot towards mid-wicket which took one bounce before crossing the rope.
The eighth over of the contest was disastrous for the Strikers, losing Wolvaardt (13 off 14), bowled by Annabel Sutherland, and Bridget Patterson (six off four), caught by Garth at fine leg off Sutherland, within five balls.
Penna (56* off 34) then came into the crease, joining her ACT Meteors teammate, Mack, in the middle of Adelaide Oval. The two would take some time to get into the rhythm following the two quick wickets, but that experience having played together previously would work wonders in the second half of the innings.
Mack continued her knack of finding the boundary, unfazed by the Stars bowling unit, eventually bringing up her half century in the 13th over with a single off Linsey Smith. The next ball she faced off Smith, Mack sent it down the ground for her ninth boundary of the innings.
Penna claimed her first boundary of her innings with a four off Erin Osborne that cleared the gap at point. But it was still all Mack, especially in the 15th over, pummeling Lucy Cripps for 16 runs that included three fours and a couple of twos, that also saw the 100 runs appear on the scoreboard for the Strikers.
Four fours from Penna detailed an impressive display of hitting in the 16th over, smacking Garth and using the bowlers speed – both the quicker and slower variations – to guide the ball to third man and fine leg.
A dot ball was rarely seen between the pair as they each found the boundary yet again, and rotated the strike before Penna unleased with a six over square leg and a well-placed four at third man – a score that brought up the 100-run partnership between her and Mack.
Tess Flintoff’s final over in the 19th steadied the scoring from a Stars standpoint, as did Garth’s over that ended the innings, save for a Penna six that found its way into the crowd past the rope at deep square leg. It brought up her own half century and helped the Strikers to their second-biggest total of WBBL|07.
While the Strikers couldn’t get the job done in the end, undone by a Stars unit who were lead by Elyse Villani and Meg Lanning at the top, as well as Sutherland, their opponents powered home with four balls to spare.
Megan Schutt earned the only wicket of the second innings for the Strikers, claiming Lanning when she holed out to Amanda-Jade Wellington at mid-off. Schutt would be the most economical of the Strikers bowlers, the medium pacer finishing with figures of 1/20 off four overs.
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Penna registered her best-ever WBBL score, coming back into the team after sitting out the last three games, and not batting in the two before that.
Speaking to media post-game, she said she enjoyed being out in the middle with Mack and contributing to the Strikers’ total.
“It was nice, I haven’t actually had a long bat this season so it was nice to kind of just spend a bit of time in the middle and obviously, down the end with the ACT teammate so that was always nice as well. It was really good,” Penna said.
“[Katie Mack’s] going unreal, she’s just hitting bombs for fun I think. It’s quite nice cause we’re coming up to WNCL season soon, so I’m really hoping she sticks with that form and it all goes well for us.”
While the Strikers didn’t find the win, they had already qualified for the WBBL|07 finals, Penna detailing that the contest still showed what the team was capable of.
The team’s attention now turns towards Wednesday night’s Eliminator against the Brisbane Heat, playing in front of a home crowd at Adelaide Oval.
“It’s a big advantage I think, definitely, playing in front of a home crowd, can’t go wrong with that,” Penna highlighted.
“We’re really looking forward to it and we’ve had a really good season so far and hopefully we can carry that momentum through to Wednesday and hopefully even Thursday and then take that to the weekend.
“I think last time we [played Brisbane] we were quite on top, so hoping to come out knowing that. Hopefully they know that as well and there’s a bit of pressure on them, but we’re just gonna play our best brand of cricket and hopefully come away with a win.
“I think the way we performed today just proves that we’re ready, even though we didn’t come away with a win. We’re looking really strong as a side, both with the bat and ball, and yeah, onto finals.
“We’re a strong side and we’re all backing each other so hopefully we can take that through to the finals.”
The Adelaide Strikers have qualified for the WBBL|07 finals, first playing the Brisbane Heat in The Eliminator at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, November 24 from 6:40pm local time.
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