The Melbourne Stars stormed into the finals of the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) after registering a comfortable seven-wicket victory over the Perth Scorchers in the first semi-finals of this iconic tournament at the North Sydney Oval.
A disciplined bowling unit sets the tone for the Melbourne Stars in the semi-finals
Electing to field first after winning the bat flip in the WBBL semi-final, the bowling unit of the Melbourne Stars were disciplined from the get-go. With the experience of Katherine Brunt and Natalie Sciver operating with the new ball, the Stars managed to strangle opposition batters Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney with their accurate line and length.
Unlike their past outings in the WBBL, where they have dominated the bowlers, the duo struggled to get going and managed to score just 32 runs in the Powerplay.
In the 7th over of the innings, with an intention to break shackles, Devine tried to take the attack to the young leg spinner, Alana King. However, the right-handed batter was undone by the lack of spin in the first delivery and was hit on the pads right in front of the wicket.
The wicket of Devine proved to be massive, considering that she was in sublime form with the bat and has the ability to single-handedly take the game away from the opposition.
The Scorchers have struggled to find a way to tackle their middle-order muddle and this game was no different. Devine's wicket resulted in a mini-collapse as they lost the next three wickets for 17 runs in the four overs, with Alana King being the wrecker in chief.
The 25-year-old has been excellent with the ball for the Stars all through the WBBL, and picked up three important wickets in the first ten overs to dent the batting unit of the Scorchers.
Along with Erin Osborne, she helped the Girls in Green pick up wickets at regular intervals and restrict the flow of runs from the opposition. Despite a late surge from Nicole Bolton, the Scorchers managed to register a below-par score of 126 runs in their allotted quota of 20 overs.
Chasing 127 runs for a place in the WBBL finals, the Stars started off in a commanding fashion, with Elyse Villani smashing the bowlers in the first couple of overs. Her wicket, coupled with the wickets of Mignon du Preez and Meg Lanning, gave the Scorchers some hope of crawling their way back into the contest.
However, it wasn't to be, as the young teenage sensation Annabel Sutherland joined forces with Sciver to take the Stars home with a match-winning partnership of 67 runs for the fourth wicket.
The England all-rounder showed composure en route her knock of unbeaten 47 runs and guided Sutherland as they stormed their way in the maiden WBBL finals.
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The young leg spinner has endured a rough patch in the past couple of seasons. Despite her lack of consistent performances in the previous seasons, the management of the Stars have kept their faith in her abilities and backed her to the fullest. The 25-year-old did not disappoint them as she has been exceptional all through the WBBL this edition. Prior to this game, King picked up 12 wickets in the 10 league games at an economy rate of 6 runs per over.
Coming into the attack after the field restrictions were lifted, King created an immediate impact as she scalped the important wickets of Sophie Devine, Beth Mooney and Amy Jones.
With the wickets of three players with heaps of international experience back in the dugout before 10 overs, the Scorchers never really recovered from these jolts and managed to score just 126 runs in their first innings.
The leg spinner returned with figures of three wickets for 16 runs in her four overs and is deservingly the player of the game in this important WBBL semi-finals clash. Her consistent exploits in the tournament helped her carve her way into the team of the tournament.