Brisbane Heat 7 for 132 (Mooney 65, Burns 2-25) beat Sydney Sixers 7 for 131 (Perry 33, van Niekerk 32, Harris 3-23) by three wickets
A courageous and skilful innings by Beth Mooney formed the spine of the Brisbane Heat's WBBL final triumph over the Sydney Sixers at a packed Drummoyne Oval, after the tournament's most powerful top order was successfully restricted by the visitors.
The Heat were able to strike a telling early blow when Delissa Kimmince swung a fiendish delivery past Alyssa Healy and kept the Sixers remarkably quiet thereafter, limiting their target to more than realistic dimensions on what was a sluggish but far from poor pitch.
Mooney shrugged off the loss of two early wickets in the chase and then formed a pivotal stand with her captain Kirby Short, all the while fighting off considerable heat-induced fatigue to take the Heat within touching distance of victory. After her dismissal, a critical 10 runs were collected from Dan van Niekerk's penultimate over of the match, before Laura Harris struck the winning boundary with four balls to spare.
Healy opened up
In the picturesque setting of Drummoyne Oval, complete with a sell out crowd of 5,386 spectators, Ellyse Perry had little hesitation batting first and bringing in her team's strength to the fore. However the Heat were to take advantage of a modicum of early movement on offer, personified by Kimmince and the delivery she conjured to find a way past the previously dominant blade of Healy.
Starting on the line of middle and off, straight enough to have Healy shaping to play through the leg side, Kimmince's late away swing turned the opener around and beat the outside edge before the ball rattled the off stump. Kimmince could scarcely have been more ecstatic at this dismissal, a tone setter for the Heat on a day where they needed to make a strong start against the heavily favoured Sixers.
Heat turn up the pressure
That wicket and the general pressure imposed by the Heat bowlers, not least the exemplary Harris, restricted Perry and a hitter as powerful as Ashleigh Gardner to a mere three boundaries between them. It was in the search for a six that Gardner fell, pouched on the midwicket rope off Harris, and Perry looked similarly frustrated when she skied Jess Jonassen and was caught by a visibly relieved Mooney after the ball swirled high above Drummoyne.
To lose Gardner and Perry in that fashion severely limited the Sixers' horizons, and the Heat were largely content with the way they continued to restrict the hosts' scoring on a slowish surface. Some acceleration was to be provided by van Niekerk, whose late fireworks at least ensured that the Sixers would set an asking rate in excess of a run a ball. If the Heat finished the innings as arguably the happier of the two sides, the Sixers still knew they were in with a chance.
When a running mix-up and a twisted right knee saw Harris depart in only the second over, soon to be followed by Sammy-Jo Johnson's wild slog to be bowled by a fired up Marizanne Kapp, the Sixers appeared to be well in control of proceedings. However, they had not been able to dislodge Mooney, who was soon controlling the innings with the sort of deft placement and precision witnessed during her many substantial innings for Australia in T20Is.
After the required run rate crept up towards eight, Mooney took full advantage of Lauren Smith's nervous fingers, crashing a high full toss to the midwicket boundary then taking the free hit for another boundary through cover - 15 runs in all were to be taken from the over. This burst pulled the required rate well below seven, and was the high point of a sterling stand worth 84 with Short. Even as Mooney struggled with exhaustion amid warm temperatures, often dropping to her haunches, she maintained outstanding composure whenever taking strike. When she finally succumbed to an excellent running catch by Perry off van Niekerk, the Heat needed only 30 from 31 balls.
Harris keeps her head
Double blows by the Sixers' spinners, first van Niekerk and then Erin Burns, pulled them well and truly back into the contest, with 15 still required by the Heat from the final two overs. While Laura Harris had been struggling for timing, Laura Woolvaardt delivered a snappy nine from five balls before she was run out challenging the strong arm of her fellow South African Kapp. Nevertheless, 10 from van Niekerk's final over left only five required in the last.
Kimmince scrambled a single first ball, before Harris lined up a length ball and then hammered wide of midwicket with such precision that the two Sixers boundary riders collided in their failed attempt to keep it from reaching the boundary. The winning runs were cause for elation among the Heat, the first non-Sydney team to win the WBBL, at the same time ending the Sixers' quest for a hat-trick of titles.