Strikers win last-ball thriller against Scorchers

Adelaide Strikers 125 for 5 (Wolward 39, McGrath 38, Hancock 3-23) beat Brisbane Heat 122 for 8 (Kerr 30*, Wellington 3-16)

The Adelaide Strikers claimed back-to-back WBBL titles after their star-studded attack defied low totals to thwart the Brisbane Heat in a nerve-wracking final.

The Strikers were restricted to 125 for 5 at Adelaide Oval after disciplined hat bowling and the inventive captaincy of Jess Jonasson.

But on a slower surface under the lights, the final was on a knife’s edge as the Heat slumped to 62 for 4 after seamer Tahlia McGrath dismissed Mignon du Preez and Laura Harris in consecutive balls in the 13th over.

The Strikers looked set to rue the missed opportunities as they dismissed Amelia Kerr and Charlie Knott in the 16th over. But fast bowler Megan Schutt dismissed Knott and Jonasson as Heat needed 13 runs off the final over.

Leg-spinner Amanda Jade Wellington dismissed Georgia Woolf on the third ball before Mikaela Hinckley hit a first-ball six as Heat needed five runs off the last two balls.

But Hinckley fell on the next ball and Wellington Cooley denied Nicola Hancock’s attempt for a match-winning six as the crowd of 12,379 erupted in joy.

A stunning victory by the Strikers left the Heat undone

The Strikers’ resounding victory upset Heat, who were playing their third game in five days. A late-season setback cost them the home final, but the third-placed Heat beat the Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers on consecutive days at the WACA to reach the final.

But a well-rested Strikers, who had the week off, rallied to defend the title with a 10th win in their last 11 games.

Much of the pre-match talk centered around the Strikers’ strong attack against the Heat’s powerful batting line-up. But that battle had to wait after McGrath elected to bat in good batting conditions.

Just like during the two finals at the WACA, the Heat took advantage of the bounce in the second over with Hancock bowling in-form Katie McKay.

But McGrath hit a brilliant cover drive boundary to get to the mark in style as he hit three fours in his first nine balls. His tenacity ignited opener Laura Wollward, who hit three consecutive fours in Jonasson’s outfield through a horrendous misfield by Woll.

After the powerplay, the strikers reached 34 runs for 1 wicket

After the powerplay, the Strikers reached 34 for 1 as an interesting tactical battle ensued. Six different bowlers were used in as many overs to start the match as Jonasson rotated his bowlers in one-over spells to unsettle the batsmen.

The strategy eventually did the trick as Heat outplayed the strikers before Hancock delivered the innings-changing over in the 10th over. He bowled an unstoppable ball behind the length line that left McGrath reeling after the top edge hit his helmet and required medical attention.

In the final delivery before drinks, Hank hit the top of McGrath’s off-bell as the batsman charged down the pitch as the Heat took a stranglehold.

The Strikers scored just 54 runs in the last 10 overs and Woodward failed to rediscover his former rhythm and was left frustrated after being stumped by Jonasson on 39.

In a bid for a late rally, the Strikers stepped up but Bridget Pietersen fell to the first ball of the 17th over as their innings ended.

The Heat had one hand on the title but needed to get past the WBBL’s best-proclaimed attack. Opener Grace Harris particularly enjoyed the early boundary against Shutt which she delivered a barb in the lead-up to the match.

The Strikers’ hopes were dashed when Harris, who had torched the Heat in the Perth final with batting, was dismissed for 13 by Madeleine Pena at first slip off Darcy Brown.

In a bid for a late rally, the Strikers stepped up but Bridget Pietersen fell to the first ball of the 17th over as their innings ended.

The Heat had one hand on the title but needed to get past the WBBL’s best-proclaimed attack. Opener Grace Harris particularly enjoyed the early boundary against Shutt which she delivered a barb in the lead-up to the match.

The Strikers’ hopes were dashed when Harris, who had torched the Heat in the Perth final with batting, was dismissed for 13 by Madeleine Pena at first slip off Darcy Brown.

But Harris fell shortly after when she failed to connect on a short delivery from off-spinner Gemma Barsby. At a turning point, Wellington proved a handful in the eighth over and dismissed opener Georgia Redmayne as the Strikers mounted a comeback.

Heat failed to put the ball away in the middle overs as the pressure mounted as du Preez and Harris were bowled by McGrath on successive deliveries.

After being badly dropped by Mack at deep midwicket in the 16th over, Knott fell to the shutout shortly after as the turn continued to the last ball.

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