The Melbourne Stars may be guaranteed of finishing on top of the Women's Big Bash League ladder but they were handed a reality check by the Brisbane Heat on Saturday.
The Stars fell to only their second defeat of the tournament when beaten by three wickets at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney although the result in terms of finals positioning did not matter for they have already secured a spot in a cut-throat semi final at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday night.
Brisbane’s Delissa Kimmince celebrates taking the wicket of the Stars’ Meg Lanning.Credit:Getty Images
The second-placed Heat, having chased down 152 for victory, have now won six straight matches since they were beaten by the Stars and shape as a formidable threat should the two teams meet again.
The Stars, who have been tinkering with the line-up, finish the regular season against the Sydney Sixers on Sunday and will look to regain the momentum they had enjoyed in the past week with wins over the Perth Scorchers, who at the time were in second spot, and the Hobart Hurricanes.
The defeat came on a day when Stars skipper Meg Lanning had a rare failure. The superstar batter, who had been the competition's second leading run-scorer, was beaten outside off stump first ball by pacer Delissa Kimmince and then fell on the second when she was troubled by the extra bounce and slashed straight to deep gully. It was her first duck of the series.
Heat counterpart Jess Jonassen (35 off 19) set the tone in response, thumping seven boundaries until she slashed spinner Alana King's first delivery to point.
Georgia Redmayne (37 off 32) maintained the momentum before Katherine Brunt produced one of the best pieces of fielding of the season, coming off her own bowling. The left-handed Redmayne had bunted the ball to leg side and, after a moment of hesitation, set off for a single. This was the break Brunt needed. Having chased down the ball, and turning on her knees, she threw down the stumps at the non-striker's end.
The Stars did well to drag the contest into the final over, leaving the Heat with eight runs to win. Victory, though, was achieved within two deliveries for power-hitter Laura Kimmince (19 off five) took to fast bowler Annabel Sutherland, including a reverse sweep for four.
Lanning's surprise lapse gave former skipper Elyse Villani (24 off 27) and South African Mignon du Preez (51 off 38), the latter already among the top five run-scorers this season, the chance to dominate. They put on 53 in good time before Villani took on leggie Amelia Kerr once too often and was stumped.
The Stars clearly had made a pre-match decision to attack the spin of Jonassen – and that's what they did. The frontline Australian spinner had 13 taken from her first over – including a straight six by du Preez – and 11 from her second, including successive boundaries by du Preez.
Du Preez's fourth half-century of the campaign came off 36 deliveries, and it was no surprise this was confirmed with a lofted drive down the ground off spinner Charli Knott. But just when a big score loomed, she fell in the same over when caught just inside the long-on boundary.
Robust all-rounder Nat Sciver (33 off 28) brought her power game but the Stars were halted when she and Sutherland (three off six), the latter coming off a player-of-the-match effort, fell in the 17th over.
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