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|Dane van Niekerk||51||36||5||1||141.67|
|Dane van Niekerk||4.0||0||33||0||8.25|
After the tussle that lasted for almost a couple of months, we finally have the semifinals locked-in in Women's Big Bash League 2019. Coincidentally, we'll see the rematches of the weekend gone by as the semifinal clashes. In the first of the two semifinals, the Thunder will take on Brisbane Heat at Drummoyne Oval, Sydney on 19th January. Melbourne Renegades, who featured in a rather one-sided affair against Sixers at Geelong on previous Sunday, are set to meet the same team at the venue same as that of the first semifinal. The results of the two semifinals will not only decide the finalists, but also the venue of the finale. The team which finished highest in the points table among the two finalists will govern the ground where the final will be played on - which leaves Drummoyne Oval and Allan Border Field as the possible options.
It will be the third time in three years that Sydney Sixers have made it to the knockouts. Sixers finished the round-robin stage three days ago with a heart-breaking loss to Melbourne Stars. However, such was the dominance of Sixers that they finished on the top of the table despite the loss in their last encounter which happened to be a dead rubber.
Batting first after winning the toss, Sydney Sixers got off to a fine start with Alyssa Healy punishing the bowlers in her usual style. Although Elysse Perry, the star of the tournament, didn't contribute much and was dismissed cheaply for a personal score of 6, her involvement in the opening partnership of 41 was important. Her wicket sparked confidence among Stars' bowlers and triggered a collapse for Sixers. The Sixers failed to recover from the epic collapse as they lost all their wickets for the next 51 runs.
Defending a total of just 93, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Sixers. Marizanne Kapp provided them with just the start they were looking for. Excellent support from Dane van Niekerk pushed Stars further down the hole as they stood in a spot of bother at 33 for 3. However, Stars' women batted responsibly thereafter and with no pressure to score quickly, they sealed the chase with five wickets and more than three overs to spare.
Considering the tournament, on the whole, the Sixers have clearly been the best side of the tournament. Alyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner. and Elysse Perry has been brilliant upfront and Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk have contributed beautifully in the bowling department. With almost all players contributing, it's going to be a difficult task for Renegades to go past them in the semifinal.
Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Erin Burns, Sara McGlashan, Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Lauren Smith, Sarah Aley, Lauren Cheatle, Hayley Silver-Holmes.
Melbourne Renegades had a rather sedate start to the tournament where they didn't win many of their matches in the first haft. However, they've been fantastic in their last seven matches where they've lost only twice - both times to Sydney based teams.
Their last encounter happened to be against the team they'll be facing in the semifinal where they faced a humiliating defeat. They failed to chase down a total of 137 on a sluggish kind of surface. Although their bowlers did well to keep the pair of Alyssa Healy and Elysse Perry quiet for the most part of their innings, the failed to pick wickets which allowed Sixers to get to a respectable total of 136.
Prior to this match, their openers were in terrific touch and the chase should've been a cakewalk for them. However, all their batswomen succumbed under pressure as they not only failed to keep up with the required run rate but lost their wickets after spending crucial time in the middle. There was some fight shown by Jess Cameron, but with no contribution from anyone else, Renegades fell short by 29 runs.
The kind of resurgence the Renegades have shown in the second half of the competition is commendable. They've been fearless yet stable in the past seven matches due to the virtue of which they made it into the knockouts. There will be immense pressure in the semifinal encounter and it will be interesting to see how this side copes up with a different kind of pressure. If they're able to keep their nerve, the Sixers will have their work cut out.
Sophie Molineux, Danielle Wyatt, Amy Satterthwaite, Jess Duffin, Courtney Webb, Emma Inglis, Claire Koski, Maitlan Brown, Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, Lea Tahuhu.
Although the form coming into the knockout games matter, it usually takes the backseat with the ability to handle the pressure and momentum taking the front row. Both the sides are coming off a terrific run in the back-end of the league stage and there's hardly anything to choose between the two, as far as momentum is concerned. Sydney Sixers are playing at home and familiarity with conditions and crowd support could play a key role. Also, the Sixers defeated the Renegades twice in two matches during the league stage and will certainly draw confidence from it. Considering the above-mentioned reasons, the Sixers are better placed to win the match and progress to the grand finale.
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