Thunder strike statement WBBL win over Brisbane Heat

Scott Bailey |

Tahlia Wilson’s unbeaten 83 off 54 balls set the Sydney Thunder up for an eight-run win v Brisbane.
Tahlia Wilson’s unbeaten 83 off 54 balls set the Sydney Thunder up for an eight-run win v Brisbane.

The Sydney Thunder have made a statement in the WBBL, hitting the club’s highest ever total before holding on for an eight-run win in the top-of-the-table clash against Brisbane.

Led by hard-hitting openers Tahlia Wilson and Chamari Athapaththu, the Thunder smashed 4-204 at North Sydney Oval.

The Heat were gallant in reply to get the equation down to 24 off the final over, before Jess Jonassen whacked two sixes of Marizanne Kapp to make it 10 needed off two balls.

But the South African bowler held her nerve and the Heat finished on 5-196.

Wooden-spooners last year with only one win, the Thunder now lead the WBBL with a 5-1 record and a game in hand over the rest of the top four.

Athapaththu has been a star, but equally impressive is the form of the Thunder’s entire top order.

Wilson hit 83 from 54 balls in the best night of her WBBL career, setting the tone early with a 102-run opening stand with Athapaththu from 63 balls.

The 24-year-old has made an art of piercing the legside field in this tournament, and seven of her 11 fours – as well as a six off Courtney Sippel – came in that fashion on Monday.

The Heat only had themselves to blame, dropping Wilson three times in her fiery innings.

Athapaththu continues to be destructive, hitting 58 off 31 deliveries.

She flayed the ball at will through the offside when offered width, and helped take 15 off Amelia Kerr’s first over when she hit the spinner back over her head for six.

The Sri Lankan brought up her 50 off 25 balls, doing so in style by slow-sweeping Jonassen for two sixes in one over.

The runs took Athapaththu to the top of the scoring charts for the tournament, with 304 at an average of 50.66 and a strike-rate of 143.39.

More remarkably, the 33-year-old was overlooked by everyone in the overseas player draft, before later being scooped up by the Thunder.

Heather Knight banged out 38 off 19 balls, as the Thunder took 69 from the final five overs.

Jonassen copped the most treatment, going for 0-48 from three overs, while Kerr was 0-43 from her three.

Sippel had more success, removing Athapaththu and Phoebe Litchfield (17) to finish with 2-31, while Nicola Hancock’s 2-32 included the wickets of Knight, and Kapp for a golden duck.

Mignon du Preez gave the Heat some hope in the chase with 61 from 37, but she was caught trying to take on Hannah Darlington (2-53) in the penultimate over.

Jonassen handed the hosts a late scare, but it wasn’t enough to pull off what would have been the competition’s highest-ever chase.