Top of the table Sydney Thunder take on the Perth Scorchers on Thursday at Adelaide Oval. Friday sees the Hobart Hurricanes up against the in form Sydney Sixers at the MCG.
Sydney Thunder vs Perth Scorchers
The Thunder has had the wood on the Scorchers so far in WBBL 01. Strong batting shows from Rachel Haynes and ICC T20 player of the year, West Indian Stafanie Taylor, have set the standard both times the teams have met. Captain Alex Blackwell describes Taylor as the team’s “X factor”.
Blackwell credits the Thunder’s success this season to the depth of the squad, particularly their bowling stocks. Nicola Carey, Rene Farrell and Lauren Cheadle have been outstanding, but the breakout star has been young spinner Maisy Gibson. “She’s got the cricket brain and composure she needs to be able to be a leg spinner in a T20 competition, and that’s not easy”, says Blackwell. She also tips 17 year old fast bowler Belinda Vakarewa to excel on a hard Adelaide pitch.
The Scorchers boast a strong squad of stars, including English internationals Charlotte Edwards & Katherine Brunt, Kiwi Suzie Bates, exciting Australian opener Elyse Villani and her Southern Stars teammate, captain Nicole Bolton.
The Scorchers’ top order has been on fire, leaving their middle order with little to do in the last few matches. Lack of time at the crease doesn’t worry captain Bolton though, saying they’ve been in tremendous nick in the nets and that she has full faith that should the middle order get called on they will deliver.
Early wickets will be the key for both teams.
WATCH LIVE: Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers from Adelaide Oval on ONE HD, 2.30pm AEDT Thursday January 21
Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers
The Sydney Sixers come into their match against the Hobart Hurricanes as the WBBL’s form team. They’ve turned around a disappointing start to sneak into the semis, winning their last eight games in a row including a last ball thriller against the Hurricanes on the weekend.
That game was one of the best of the season, with batting heroics from NZ international, Sarah McGlashan, who scored a match-winning 79 from 58 balls including four sixes and three boundaries. She took the Sixers from 4/20 to a last ball strike to take the win and book the team into the finals.
Sixers captain Ellyse Perry is pleased with her team’s momentum but stresses that Friday’s rematch “presents an entirely new challenge.”
“What’s been really pleasing across the whole season is that each player in our squad has stood up at different times to contribute to the team and I think in finals cricket it’s especially important that your whole team feels confident and capable of playing the role they need to in each match”, Perry quipped.
The Hurricanes’ success has been built on consistency at the crease, coupled with solid bowling performances. Captain Heather Knight says her team is tight and rather than feeling the pressure will go into the match confident that they have been performing well. “Our bowling unit has been outstanding all tournament and we can take confidence from that into the semi-final.” Medium pacer Veronica Pyke is currently the WBBL’s leading wicket taker, with 22 scalps from 14 matches at an average of 12.54.
Knight says the introduction to the team of some international players has helped their composure going into the match. “I think that having that experience of a few internationals, that have played in big, must-win games before, will be really useful for us.”
The Sixers will look to their quicks Marizanne Kapp and Perry to break through early and for big-hitting from McGlashan, Alyssa Healy and captain Perry.
Expect it to go down to the wire.
WATCH LIVE: Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Sixers from the MCG on ONE HD, 2.30pm AEDT Friday January 22
WBBL 01 GRAND FINAL: 2.30pm AEDT Sunday January 24 live on Channel TEN