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Gardner, Bolton lead Sixers to superb team victory

04 November 2021

Ashleigh Gardner’s half-century has led an all-round performance from Sydney Sixers, who recorded their fourth win of WBBL|07

Ashleigh Gardner’s fearless batting and Nicole Bolton’s economical bowling has led the Sydney Sixers to their fourth win of WBBL|07, handing the Hobart Hurricanes their third loss on the trot despite late batting efforts from Molly Strano.

After Gardner’s first half-century of the season helped her team to 4-141, efficient bowling from the Maitlan Brown (2-15) and Bolton (2-28) led their side to their fourth win of the season, overcoming the seventh-placed Hurricanes by 31 runs.

The Hurricanes came out firing with ball in hand, dismissing Sixers opener Alyssa Healy for a duck with just the fourth ball of the afternoon.

This ended the in-form opening partnership between Ellyse Perry and Healy, who could not replicate their heroics from their last appearance at the WACA, which saw them score a record 0-199 in WBBL|05.

But Perry picked up with the support of Gardner who batted herself into form after a string of low scores, finding their rhythm and leaving the initial Hurricanes pressure behind as they put on 103 for the second wicket.

Young Hurricane Ruth Johnston slowed the Sixers’ batting frenzy with an economical over before drinks, with her figures sitting at six runs from just two overs.

But the Hurricane’s bowlers battled to find a way to break apart the Perry-Gardner partnership for most of the Sixers’ innings.

The stalwart Sixers pair brought up their 100-run partnership in the 16th over, off just 91 balls, the highest partnership for their side this season.

Gardner belted a six to bring up her first half-century of the season, before being caught at deep mid-wicket by Belinda Vakarewa, but her 51 off 49 balls had given her side a comfortable platform.

The Hurricanes fought back in the final overs, with Shafali Verma (3) stumped by Hurricane Rachel Priest.

Shortly after, Nicola Carey (1-26) removed Perry (47 off 52) for the fourth time in their WBBL careers, denying her a half-century.

Bolton accelerated the Sixers innings in the remaining overs, belting 18 runs off nine balls, including a crucial three boundaries. Alongside her, Brown showed intent, adding a neat seven runs off six to bring the Sixers’ total to 4-141.

The Sixers were on the front foot early with ball in hand, removing young Hurricane Johnston for just three runs, caught by Verma, awarding Lauren Cheatle her fourth wicket of the season. The worries continued for the Canes, with Proteas star Mignon du Preez unable to better her 41 runs last week, caught for five runs off Brown’s bowling.

Priest, who was just 61 runs off reaching a career 2000 runs, stood tall early, but the Sixers’ consolidated bowling restricted the Canes captain. Carey’s entrance briefly assisted the Hurricane’s push to reach their target of 142 runs, but her creativity was found out when she was caught by Gardner on 15.

After drinks, the Canes faltered again, with Priest (27 off 29) caught by a diving Bolton, centimetres off the ground at mid-wicket in the CommBank Play of the Day, leaving them 4-54 in the 11th over.

Bolton came in to make another mark and left on a hattrick, removing Naomi Stalenberg (14 off 17) and then Richa Ghosh (11 off 17).

Entertainment ensued in the final overs for the Hurricanes as they pushed for late runs, with Strano hitting 22 not out from 16 balls, but it was left too late to make up the deficit.

The Hurricanes remain in Perth to face the Scorchers on Saturday, while the Sixers have an extended break, before taking on the Strikers in Adelaide next Wednesday.