Adelaide Strikers 169 for 4 (Mack 71, Patterson 35, Edgar 1-31) beat Perth Scorchers 165 for 7 (Sciver-Brunt 53, Jones 33, Wellington 3-25, Schutt 2-25) by six wickets
Strikers appeared to be cruising for much of their chase of 166, but were still left needing 12 runs off the final over. Gibson hit a four off the first delivery bowled by teenaged quick Chloe Ainsworth and levelled the scores with a six over deep midwicket on the fourth delivery.
But a dot ball heightened the nerves, leaving one to win off the final ball, until Gibson calmly smashed another four through cover as Strikers finally prevailed in a chase they appeared to have in the bag for much of the innings.
Scorchers were left frustrated when Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath survived an lbw shout on 3 from legspinner Alana King that would have been overturned if they had reviewed the decision. Mack and McGrath feasted on wayward bowling with young speedsters Ainsworth and Stella Campbell being particularly expensive.
Scorchers turned to offspinner Amy Edgar, whose knack of taking invaluable wickets continued when she had McGrath caught at mid-off on 30. Mack was unconventional, but effective and combined well with Bridget Patterson in a 78-run partnership for the third wicket. But Strikers stumbled late with Mack brilliantly run out by captain Sophie Devine in the penultimate over before Gibson’s heroics.
With both teams entering with 4-2 records, Strikers notched a pivotal victory at the season’s halfway point after overcoming an uncharacteristically sloppy effort in the field marked by dropped three catches, including Sciver-Brunt on 27.
Scorchers elected to bat in good batting conditions and all eyes were on Sciver-Brunt who was a controversial late signing after not nominating for the overseas player draft. She started off with 53 off 33 balls and helped Scorchers overcome a mid-innings stutter. Sciver-Brunt, who has not played since blasting an ODI century against Sri Lanka in September, showed no rust with clean hitting on a ground where she made her Test debut almost a decade ago.
Sciver-Brunt’s inclusion forced a reshuffle in the line-up with Devine back to her customary position partnering Beth Mooney at the top after starting the season at No. 4. But Mooney was out for a duck in the first over when quick Megan Schutt had her caught at short third in superb field placement.
Emerging batter Maddy Darke held her spot in the team and justified the faith with several attractive strokes.
Having used the scoop to good effect, Darke failed to connect on another such attempt and was bowled by legspinner Amanda-Jade Wellington. Devine rode her luck having been dropped on 19 and 22, but was unable to make Strikers pay the price. She was bowled on 28 by McGrath in a decision confirmed by the third umpire amid confusion over whether wicketkeeper Patterson had knocked off the bails.
Sciver-Brunt and Amy Jones quickly got Scorchers back on track with a free-wheeling 72-run partnership. They scurried between the wickets to apply pressure on flagging Strikers fielders before unleashing a slew of boundaries.
But Jones on 33 was lured out of the crease by Wellington to be stumped as Strikers fought back in the back-end of the innings largely through Schutt’s unnerving accuracy. Sciver-Brunt reached her half-century in style with a boundary in the final over of the innings much to the delight of a record WACA crowd of 3400 fans for a WBBL match.
But the Scorchers faithful was less enthused when Gibson stepped up under pressure as the shadows creeped onto the ground.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth