Alana King, Nat Sciver power Melbourne Stars to maiden WBBL final

Nov 25, 2020

Melbourne Stars 3 for 127 (Sciver 47*) beat Perth Scorchers 8 for 125 (Bolton 32, King 3-16) by seven wickets

The Melbourne Stars put in a performance worthy of their table-topping status to book a place in the WBBL final. Legspinner Alana King continued her outstanding tournament with three scalps, including the imposing opening duo of Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney, from which the Perth Scorchers could not recover sufficiently to post a target large enough to test the Stars.

Having been put in to bat, the Scorchers struggled to impose themselves on the match and the first half of their innings included just a single boundary. Nicole Bolton managed to haul them over 120, but Meg Lanning was rarely under pressure as the fielding captain.

Briefly, when Devine struck her first delivery there was the possibility that the extra pressure of a semi-final could come into play and make the target more daunting than it really was. However, there was a crispness and confidence about the strokeplay even when they shipped three wickets inside seven overs before an unbroken stand of 67 between Nat Sciver and Annabel Sutherland sealed the result. Now the Stars wait to see whether they will face the Brisbane Heat or Sydney Thunder in Saturday’s final

Dealing in singles

The pressure was applied early to Devine, who was unusually tentative, and Mooney as their scoring in the first three overs of the Powerplay was solely in singles. The first ball of the fourth over finally brought a boundary – albeit an outside edge from Mooney – and by the end of the six overs they had given themselves a base at 0 for 32, albeit a sluggish one, and the boundary count remained at one. It would be a while until that changed. And it was about as good as the Scorchers’ position got.

King crowned

King has been one of the revelations of the season for the Stars – both with bat and ball – after not making the starting XI for the first two matches. With her first delivery she struck the huge blow, trapping Devine lbw when she missed a sweep, and across her next three overs would all-but win the match. Amy Jones, whose tournament has never got going due to injury, chipped a catch to mid-off and when Mooney did the same, with a touch more force, the Scorchers were 4 for 51 in the 11th. Between the mayhem caused by King, Chloe Piparo had been run out by Erin Osborne from her follow through after responding to Mooney’s call. King finished with 3 for 16 and her four overs included 15 dot balls.

Scrambling a score

Through a combination of Bolton, Heather Graham and Sarah Glenn the Scorchers did manage to rally in the second half of the innings. Their boundary count was finally doubled in the 13th over when Graham sent King over mid-off, repeating the dose next ball as King conceded half her final tally in those two deliveries which emphasised the overall control she had. Left-arm spinner Sophie Day was given the responsibility of the 19th over and conceded just five while Nicole Faltum produced a smart piece of glovework to remove the dangerous Sarah Glenn.

Natalie Sciver plays one fine Getty Images

Trading blows

The Stars did not hold back during the powerplay. Elyse Villani took 14 off the opening over – although her first boundary was a top edge that nearly found deep square leg – and then Mignon du Preez, who has been the glue of the batting, was bowled off her boot by Devine’s first delivery. Would 2 for 20 prompt a period of watchfulness? Nope. Lanning and Sciver took 14 off Glenn’s second over, quickly eating into the small target, and after six overs the Stars were 2 for 54. Then came one of the deliveries of the season as Graham nipped one off the seam to take Lanning’s off stump. Another quick wicket and anything was possible but the experience of Sciver and the coolness of the ever-improving Sutherland – who produced one of the shots of the night with a lofted drive for six – ensured no further alarms. They will take some beating in the final.

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