A mouth-watering contest looks set to unfold when the Perth Scorchers’ explosive batting order meets the in-form Adelaide Strikers bowling attack in the WBBL|07 final on Saturday night.
Led by women’s Ashes hopeful Amanda-Jade Wellington, the Strikers’ bowling unit looks to have peaked at just the right time – the Adelaideans confined the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades to less than 200 runs between them across their two elimination clashes to well-and-truly earn a spot in the biggest game of the year.
The Scorchers, meanwhile, boast the most destructive opening pair in the competition: Sophie Devine, the only woman to win consecutive WBBL Player Of The Tournament awards, and Beth Mooney, WBBL|07’s leading run-scorer.
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Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath knows the key to victory will be in thwarting the Scorchers’ openers, who have scored 935 runs between them in WBBL|07.
“For us, it’s about breaking the partnership of ‘Soph’ and ‘Moons’ really early. That’s going to be a crucial decider in the game,” she told reporters on Friday afternoon (AEDT).
The Scorchers had the Strikers’ measure in their two previous encounters this summer, but McGrath’s troops are on a roll and are ready to flip the script this time around.
“They were very good games of cricket,” McGrath said of the last two clashes with the Scorchers.
“We thought we were unlucky in both of them.
“There’s a lot of confidence in our side at the moment.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum behind us, (bowlers) Darcie Brown and Megan Schutt are starting us off unreal in the powerplay.
“From our point of view, there’s just one game to go.”
While the Strikers have spent the past week fighting for the chance to play in the decider, the Scorchers have been able to put their feet up – having finished first on the ladder, Devine’s side earned a free pass into the final.
They’re now raring to get back onto the pitch.
“I’m excited first and foremost, and probably a little bit nervous, to be fair,” said Devine, who is coming up against her old side in the decider.
Devine said it was impossible for the Strikers’ form to have escaped her side’s notice, but that she had “full confidence” in the Scorchers’ ability to bring home the WBBL trophy.
“The Strikers have been fantastic in the last couple of games,” Devine admitted.
“But we know as well, we’ve got to back our strengths. I think as soon as we start to give too much energy and focus on to what they’re capable of doing, we almost lose a bit of our own power. So we’re certainly backing ourselves.”
Devine said the Scorchers’ firepower didn’t end with their opening pair.
“We’ve gained a lot of confidence from our middle order and we’ve always known what they’ve been capable of,” she said.
“It’s really nice to see them spend a bit of time out in the middle in the last couple of games.
“It’s going to hold us in really good stead.”
Devine said she looked forward to putting on a show for the Perth crowd at Optus Stadium.
“Perth people love their sport and to know that they’re hopefully going to be backing us all the way is something that I’m certainly really excited about,” she said.
“It just adds to the whole spectacle for us.”
McGrath said her side was ready to rise to the challenge of playing in front of a hostile crowd.
“From our point of view, the more people here, the better. We’re really excited to get out there,” she said.
“There hasn’t been a lot of women’s cricket played (at Optus Stadium), so I think it’d be fairly similar for both sides.
“That’s the great thing about this competition; every team is so strong and anyone can beat anyone on their day.”