WBBL round-up: South African Strikers sizzle; Heat outgun Sixers despite Gardner heroics
Wolvaardt and van Niekerk help Strikers beat Thunder; Sixers' Gardner scores 86 not out in a losing cause against Heat
Adelaide Strikers 4 for 176 (van Niekerk 58, Wolvaardt 54, Johnson 2-25) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 158 (Wong 43, McGrath 2-20) by 18 runs
Half-centuries from South African duo Dane van Niekerk and Laura Wolvaardt helped Adelaide Strikers to a comfortable victory over the struggling Sydney Thunder at Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide.
van Niekerk played the anchor role at the top of the order, making 58 off 46 balls with three fours and three sixes while Wolvaardt finished the innings in style with a blistering 54 off 32 balls including three sixes of her own. Thunder never looked likely in the chase until Issy Wong produced a staggering display of hitting, striking six sixes in 17 balls but they still fell 18 runs short.
Strikers were cautious in the first ten over, scoring just 65 runs for the loss of Katie Mack who made 31 off 28. Wong bowled two maidens in the first ten overs but oddly bowled just three overs for the innings and conceded only eight runs. Strikers exploded in the back half of the innings scoring 111 runs in the last ten overs with van Niekerk and Wolvaardt doing most of the damage before Madeline Penna pounded a six and a four late to tick the total up to 4 for 176. Thunder dropped four catches during the innings and Sammy-Jo Johnson was the only bowler besides Wong who was spared, taking 2 for 25 from her four overs.
Thunder struggled for momentum in the chase. Tahlia Wilson made 42 off 46 balls at the top of the order. Phoebe Litchfield tried to lift the rate with 40 off 28 but Strikers attack was disciplined. When Tahlia McGrath trapped Wilson lbw Thunder were 4 for 96, needing 82 from 32 balls.
Wong then went ballistic, swatting three consecutive sixes off van Niekerk and then two more off Megan Schutt. But without any support from the other end, the required rate kept climbing. Wong struck a sixth six off Amanda-Jade Wellington from the first ball of the 19th over to reduce the equation to 35 from 11 but she was bowled for 43 off 17 balls trying to slog-sweep a yorker and Strikers closed out the match.
Brisbane Heat 2 for 162 (Harris 54, Voll 48*, Radha 1-33) beat Sydney Sixers 2 for 159 (Gardner 86*, Bolton 38*, Prestwidge 1-23) by eight wickets
Ashleigh Gardner's stunning innings was in vain as Brisbane Heat's top four chased down 160 with ease to brush aside Sydney Sixers at Karen Rolton Oval and reclaim second spot on the WBBL table.
Gardner made 86 not out from just 52 balls with six fours and five sixes to help Sixers post a total of 2 for 159, but a half-century from Grace Harris and 48 not out from Georgia Voll, along with contributions from Georgia Redmayne and Laura Kimmince saw Heat mow down the target with nine balls to spare and eight wickets in hand.
Harris continued her excellent season smashing four fours and two sixes, sharing a 53-run opening stand with Redmayne (27 off 18) who struck three fours and a six as well. But Gardner ended the partnership with a brilliant throw from the deep to run out Redmayne.
However, Sixers would make just one more breakthrough with Harris holing out to deep square leg for 54 with 60 still needed from 47 balls. Voll and Kimmince hardly broke a sweat in reaching the target. Voll played with amazing control striking seven boundaries including the winning runs, while Kimmince smashed two sixes and a four in her 23 not out off 15 balls.
Earlier, Gardner's extraordinary innings was needed to overcome a terribly slow start from Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry. The veteran openers combined for 30 runs off 44 balls with just three boundaries. Healy made 16 from 26 and fell in the 12th over. It was left to Gardner and Nicole Bolton to pick up the slack. They scored 87 from the last eight overs of the innings with Bolton contributing 38 not out from 24 balls. But it wasn't enough to make up for the slow start.