Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of the opening fixture of the finals series at North Sydney Oval. This is the deepest Melbourne Stars have gone in a WBBL season and they are most worthy of their place in the knockouts, having proven themselves as the team to beat after the 56 games of the regular campaign. The Stars have beaten Perth Scorchers twice this season – by margins of eight wickets and six runs – and will rightly start favourites to advance to the decider, where lying in wait will be the winner of tomorrow’s other semi-final between Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder.
But despite their excellence for much of WBBL|06, the Stars have dropped their past two matches and have some questions to answer tonight. The Scorchers, too, enter this semi-final on the back of defeat, losing seven wickets for just 38 runs in a surprise loss to Adelaide Strikers last Sunday. In a weekend double at this venue, Scorchers openers Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney shared in consecutive triple-figure stands – on the Saturday they batted right through to inflict a crushing 10-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes – and much will again hinge on their exploits at the top of the order.
This encounter should very much be a war of the willow, with the WBBL season’s three top batters all engaged. Splitting Mooney and Devine is the Stars skipper, Meg Lanning. All three can be expected to fill their boots on the acquiescent North Sydney Oval environs, but one suspects the Stars will be better equipped to cover a rare Lanning no-show than the Scorchers if one, or both, of Mooney and Devine miss out.
But we shall see. This should be a great contest. If you’d like to get involved, drop me an email or tweet @scott_heinrich.