The score: Sydney Sixers 5-138 (Gardner 72, Burns 25; Devine 2-21) defeated Adelaide Strikers 9-121 (Beaumont 50, Price 19; Aley 4-18) by 17 runs
Match in a tweet: The Sixers will take on the Scorchers in the #WBBL03 final after a brilliant display with bat and ball doused the Strikers!
The hero: Sarah Aley, take a bow. The hero of the Sixers’ WBBL|02 final win again rose to the occasion on the biggest stage at Adelaide Oval, taking four wickets and triggering the Strikers' dramatic collapse. Adelaide made a positive start to their chase, with captain Suzie Bates steely eyed and full of intent as her team reached 20 from their first three overs. Then, Aley struck. She removed Bates for 14, before sending No.3 Tahlia McGrath on her way with the very next delivery. Irish import Kim Garth chipped in with two wickets of her own – removing star allrounder Sophie Devine (7) and Bridget Patterson (0) – before Aley claimed another two wickets in the space of three balls as Amanda-Jade Wellington and Tabatha Saville both departed without scoring. At one point she had 4-1, as she left the Strikers reeling at 6-23.
The return to form: Ashleigh Gardner returned to form in stunning fashion, blasting a rapid-fire half-century. Coming in after the early dismissal of Alyssa Healy (2), Gardner reached her half-century from just 31 balls and made the most of a life on 48, going on to score 72 from 45 deliveries. The 20-year-old had started WBBL|03 with a bang on opening weekend, scoring 114 at North Sydney Oval, but since returning from a concussion suffered in Wollongong – which caused her to miss two matches – she had struggled to make the same impact, scoring just 85 runs at 9.4 in nine innings. But she picked the perfect time to regain form, clearing the boundary six times and striking five fours in her blazing knock. She transformed a Sixers innings that made a sluggish start following Healy’s departure – they were 1-9 after four overs – to post 5-138, a total that proved to be more than enough.
The support cast: With the ball, Ireland pace bowler Garth chimed in with two wickets of her own – including that of the dangerous Devine – to finish with figures of 2-14 from three overs. With the bat, Gardner’s 72 was backed up by Erin Burns’ sharp 25 from 17 deliveries.
The consolation effort: While her Strikers teammates fell around her, England import Tammy Beaumont stood tall. Her 50 from 46 balls meant there was still a sense that a miracle might happen until her dismissal in the 17th open. She pulled out her full array of shots including one brilliant ramp during her half-century, finding the boundary on seven occasions. In an innings where the next highest score was 19, Beaumont was brilliant.
The drop: Gardner flew to 50 runs at Adelaide Oval, but needed just a little bit of luck to pass the milestone, with Bridget Patterson’s missed chance on the boundary handing her a second chance.
The fantasy wrap: Unsurprisingly, Sarah Aley dominated the scoring with 125 points, followed by Ashleigh Gardner with 99 and Erin Burns’ fine all-round game earned her 94.
The wash-up: The WBBL|03 final is locked in! In a replay of last year’s decider, it will again be the Scorchers taking on the Sixers. The only thing different will be the venue – while the Sixers claimed a seven-run win at the WACA Ground last year, this year’s decider will be played at either Adelaide Oval or Etihad Stadium, pending the result of tonight’s men’s KFC BBL semi-final. Don't miss it from 12.10pm AEDT on Sunday!
Sixers XI: Perry (c), Healy (wk), Gardner, Burns, McGlashan, Jones, Reakes, Aley, Smith, Coyte, Garth.
Strikers XI: Bates (c), Devine, McGrath, Beaumont, Patterson, Saville, Wellington, McPharlin (wk), Price, Schutt, Pope.