Perth Scorchers women 1 for 125 (Villani 52*, Bolton 36) beat Brisbane Heat women 5 for 124 (Short 39, Kimmince 25*, King 2-17) by nine wickets
Perth Scorchers romped to a comprehensive victory - by nine wickets and with 4.2 overs to spare - over Brisbane Heat to book their place in the final of the second edition of the Women's Big Bash League.
Twelve months ago, Scorchers limited Sydney Thunder - the eventual champions - to an under-par score in a semi-final at Adelaide Oval, only for their vaunted batting lineup to be bowled out for 110. That was the only occasion in the first two seasons of the competition that Scorchers have failed to chase 125.
This time, they once again limited their opponents to a light-looking score but had no problems in the chase. Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani put on 67 in 9.2 overs to set things up, then Suzie Bates joined the latter to finish the job. It had been close to the complete performance, full of tight bowling and expressive batting.
Kirby sells Heat Short
On a flat pitch with a rapid outfield, Kirby Short and Beth Mooney were quick out of the blocks with some beautiful cover drives. But when Mooney picked out the lone fielder in the leg side out at deep midwicket off Piepa Cleary - whose fine form continued - captain Short slowed up. By the time she fell to the last ball of the 16th over, 25 of the 49 balls she had faced were dots, and Jess Jonassen and Lauren Winfield had both been caught in the deep trying to push the score along. Scorchers, particularly spinner Emma King, who smartly caught Short off her own bowling, had bowled well, but not that well.
Perhaps worst of all, the slow-scoring and lack of strike rotation kept Deandra Dottin from the middle, which was neatly summed up by Scorchers' fielder Elyse Villani, mic'd up and chatting on-air. "We don't mind Short being out there compared to Dottin," she said. "Personally I don't mind if she [Dottin] sits there all day."
The late push
Fortunately for the Heat, Dottin did not sit there all day. After Short fell, she and Delissa Kimmince put on 34 from the final four overs. Dottin walloped her first ball down the ground for four and ran hard between the wickets, but Kimmince - who took 20 off her 10 balls from Anya Shrubsole - was the aggressor-in-chief. Heat had something to defend. Not much - they were at least 20 short of par, thanks to the 50 dot balls they played - but something.
The chilled chase
In the absence of the injured Holly Ferling, Heat's bowling lacks bite and Bolton and Villani barely broke sweat under the searing Perth sun. Bolton looked in particularly fine touch, with flowing fours on the pull and on the drive, before being run out by a piece of smart work at backward-point by Jess Jonassen. Bates struggled initially, but played herself into form - another boon for the finalists - with some wristy flicks through midwicket. The winning runs, a hard sweep off Jonassen, brought up a fifty for Villani full of clever improvisation and bunts to midwicket.
What next for Scorchers?
Well, there are two things at play. Who will they face in their first WBBL final? That depends on who wins the game between Sydney Sixers - who finished top of the table - and Hobart Hurricanes in Brisbane on Wednesday. Hurricanes have never beaten Sixers in five attempts.
Next, where will that final be played? If Scorchers' male counterparts beat Melbourne Stars, Saturday's final will be at the WACA. If Stars win, the final will take place at the home of the winner of tomorrow's men's semi-final, which is between Heat and Sixers.
Whoever they play, and wherever it is, Scorchers will be tough to beat.