HomeWBBL: Sydney Thunder defeat Sydney Sixers, finals hopes on the line, Smriti...

WBBL: Sydney Thunder defeat Sydney Sixers, finals hopes on the line, Smriti Mandhana and Issy Wong star

The Sydney Sixers are in serious danger of missing the finals once again after slumping to a fourth-straight defeat on Sunday afternoon.

A classy knock from Smriti Mandhana capped off an excellent bowling display as the Sydney Thunder left its cross-town rivals on the brink of another early exit.

Mandhana hardly moved out of first gear in Mackay, hitting a casual 45 as the Thunder strolled to a six-wicket win over the Sydney Sixers with 28 balls to spare.

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The defeat – their fourth on the trot – means the Sixers, despite their star-studded line-up, are in danger of missing the finals series for a third year in a row.

“It’s been tough to watch,” said the Thunder’s championship-winning captain Rachael Haynes, who withdrew from the squad for WBBL|07.

“Despite the fact they’re in different colours, I do want to see them do well.

“They just haven’t quite clicked and I think it’s really highlighted just how crucial Alyssa Healy is for them at the top of the order just in terms of getting them off to a good start. She’d probably admit she hasn’t quite had the season she wanted to.

“They just haven’t had different players step up at different moments – they’ve always been chasing their tails a little bit.”

After opting to bat first, Ellyse Perry dug in for a gritty, unbeaten knock of 40, but the Sixers struggled for every one of their 94 runs.

Perry’s knock aside, the Sixers’ top order collapsed for a second time in two days after Shafali Verma, Alyssa Healy and Ash Gardner all fell early.

Verma was brilliantly run out by a direct hit from Deepti Sharma and a stunning outswinger from Issy Wong brought about the demise of Gardner.

Wong bowled exceptionally at the start of the innings, picking up Healy’s wicket and ending with figures of 2-27, while young captain Hannah Darlington (2-19) made life difficult for the Sixers at the back end.

Nicole Bolton and Perry began a slow rebuild, but even with their experience, runs were hard to come by on a slow and seemingly tricky wicket at the Great Barrier Reef Arena.

Bolton was eventually bowled by Darlington for 19 and that allowed Angela Reakes to add an important 16 runs to the total.

But Perry stood alone as the Sixers stumbled to 6-94, leaving the Thunder to chase a modest target.

In reply, Lauren Cheatle struck twice to remove the Thunder’s dangerous duo of Sammy-Jo Johnson and Phoebe Litchfield and then picked up the late wicket of Corinne Hall.

But, for the second game in a row, the Sixers were let down by their batting as the Thunder cruised to victory with Tahlia Wilson and Deepti Sharma in the middle.

Ducks in a row

It wasn’t long ago that Ash Gardner hit consecutive scores of 51 and 86, but in T20 tournaments, matches come at you thick and fast. And the Sixers’ run of losses has coincided with Gardner’s three consecutive ducks, first against the Adelaide Strikers, then Brisbane Heat and most recently against the Thunder.

Rocket arm

The Thunder’s Deepti Sharma sent out a message to opposition batters – do not take on her arm. The Indian all-rounder ran out her international teammate Shafali Verma with a brilliant direct hit, and her rocket arm tested the Sixers batters all innings.

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