Sydney Thunder 120 for 1 (Athapaththu 77*) beat Perth Scorchers 116 for 8 (Jones 37)
Athapaththu was part of Thunder’s disciplined spin brigade that restricted Scorchers to a lowly 116 for 8 in the day fixture.
In reply, Athapaththu took over after a disastrous run out of Phoebe Litchfield, who had replaced Tahlia Wilson at the top of the order.
Having not responded to Litchfield’s call at the non-striker’s end, Athapaththu made amends with her blistering 77 off 53 balls marked by a calculated assault on legspinner Alana King.
Star allrounder Nat Sciver-Brunt bowled for the first time this season, but it was to no avail as Scorchers’ four-match winning streak was snapped.
It was a vital victory for Thunder, who pulled within one point of league leaders Scorchers.
Thunder elected to bowl first in what appeared a brave decision amid a flat surface and sunny conditions in Sydney. They had to confront a red-hot Scorchers batting order led by stars Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine, who have enjoyed rekindling their partnership at the top.
Having started the season at No. 4, Devine has excelled alongside Mooney and they appeared to be once again powering Scorchers to a big total.
After a cautious start warding off seam movement from the new ball, Devine made her move by clubbing seamer Marizanne Kapp down the ground for a belligerent boundary.
It also ignited left-handed batter Mooney, who had earlier struggled to pierce a stacked off side field with Kapp angling the ball across her. She smashed Kapp for consecutive fours and hit four boundaries in the space of five balls.
Mooney, who had scored 289 runs and only dismissed once in her last four innings, had a life on 25 when she was dropped at extra cover by Knight. It appeared Thunder would rue the missed chance, but two balls later Mooney was trapped lbw by offspinner Lauren Smith.
It triggered a collapse with seamer Sammy-Jo Johnson in the next over claiming her 100th WBBL wicket after bowling Devine, who failed to connect on a delivery that didn’t bounce as high as she anticipated.
Given the form of Devine and Mooney, Sciver-Brunt hadn’t been greatly required in her five matches this season. It loomed as a perfect scenario for her, but Sciver-Brunt’s stay at the crease was brief after being bowled by Smith on eight.
Jones in the 19th over hit Scorchers’ first six of the innings and she added another, but their subpar total proved light work for Thunder who banked an invaluable victory.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
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