Sixers secure semi-final spot with eighth win in a row
Sydney Sixers completed the most remarkable of turnarounds to qualify for the inaugural WBBL semi-finals by beating Hobart Hurricanes off the final ball to seal their eighth consecutive win.
Sixers will once again face the Hurricanes in a semi-final, while Sydney Thunder successfully defended 104 to beat Melbourne Stars to top the ladder. Thunder will play fourth-placed Perth Scorchers, who thrashed Melbourne Stars in Adelaide to secure qualification at the Stars' expense.
The semi-finals will be played as double headers with the equivalent fixtures in the men's competition at Adelaide Oval on Thursday and the MCG on Friday. Cricket Australia will announce which fixture will take place on each day when the men's line-up is finalised on Monday evening.
Sixers had Sara McGlashan to thank for their victory. Requiring 127 to beat Hurricanes, they looked down and out at 4 for 20, but McGlashan lifted her side. She unleashed classy drives and pulls on her way to 79 from 58 balls, which included four sixes, when none of her team-mates had passed 11. Requiring 14 from the final over - and two from the final ball - the New Zealand international held her nerve to drive Heather Knight down the ground for two to seal victory.
Thunder recovered from a poor showing in the Sydney derby on Saturday to beat the Stars and secure qualification, having been the competition's pace-setters, despite a recent drop in form. Alex Blackwell's 31 and Nicola Carey's 20 anchored their sub-par total at Sydney's University Oval. This was followed by a superb bowling from Rene Farrell, who took 4 for 18 including Katie Mack with the second ball of the innings, and 15-year-old Belinda Vakarewa, who dismissed Meg Lanning in her first over, ensured Thunder won by six runs.
That left the Stars' fate out of their own hands, as the bottom-placed Renegades, who had already beaten Adelaide Strikers to end their chances of qualification, took on Scorchers. A Scorchers victory would see them qualify, and they pulled it off in some style, with Nicky Shaw (3 for 28) and Katherine Brunt's (2 for 14) superb bowling limiting Renegades - the competition's weakest batting side - to 108, which Charlotte Edwards and Elyse Villani chased down with ease. Edwards fell for 63 with Scorchers seven runs short, but a boundary each for Suzie Bates and Villani saw Scorchers through.
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp