This year’s Rebel WBBL is shaping up to be the most unpredictable yet, the stars of the competition believe.
Following the third weekend of WBBL|05 and with 23 of 56 regular season matches completed, three teams have collected four wins; ladder leaders Sydney Thunder, Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers.
The scheduling of the first standalone edition, with matches mostly played on weekends, means teams are often playing on back to back days.
So far, only four clubs have won on consecutive days - the Hurricanes, Thunder, Strikers and Sixers - and each of those have only managed it once, after three weekends of matches.
"I just think it’s such a close competition, it’s really tough to beat teams twice in a row," Strikers captain Suzie Bates said.
"The next day people work on their game and come back with different tactics and if you’re slightly off your game anyone can beat anyone."
The ability of teams to hold their nerve in tight finishes is also likely to prove decisive in the race for the final four.
"I think you want to win as many games as you can, particularly early on, otherwise you’re chasing your tail," Thunder captain Rachael Haynes said on Sunday.
"We’ve seen over the last few years that at the back end of the season people start to get tired and some of those close wins before really valuable."
The Thunder are on top of the table, with four wins, one loss and one no result after their match against Hobart was washed out on Saturday.
Two of those four wins have gone down to the wire, with a final-ball triumph over the Renegades and victory over the Stars with two deliveries to spare.
Adelaide Strikers boast one of the strongest lists in the competition but have only managed back-to-back wins once, splitting points against the Renegades at home on the opening weekend of the tournament and, most recently, against the Heat in Mackay.
Sydney Sixers suffered a loss to Brisbane Heat during their opening weekend in Sydney but have since strung together three consecutive wins, albeit with two of those against an injury-hit Stars outfit and the other a nervy win over the Renegades with just one ball to spare.
Defending champions Brisbane Heat have had a mixed bag of results, winning three and losing three; in Mackay they suffered an eight-wicket defeat to the Strikers on Saturday night before bouncing back to thrash the same opposition by nine wickets on Sunday.
"It’s probably the most even competition (we’ve seen)," Heat allrounder Jess Jonassen said.
"It’s showed that any team that doesn’t quite show up on the day, isn’t going to come out on the right side of the ledger."
The new-look Hurricanes started the season on a strong note with back-to-back wins over the Stars but have since dropped their next three matches.
The Renegades, more than only other team, will be ruing missed opportunities with two wins from their six matches.
First, a missed stumping allowed Meg Lanning to bat the Scorchers to a final-ball win on Friday, before Danni Wyatt put down Ellyse Perry, who went on to guide her team to victory with a ball to spare on Saturday.
Of their four defeats, three have been decided on the last, or second-last ball.
The WBBL Festival Weekend action moves to Adelaide this Saturday and Sunday, with three matches across two days.
Around the country, matches will also be played at North Sydney Oval and at Melbourne’s Junction Oval.