Sydney Thunder quick Shabnim Ismail went to bed on Saturday night plotting how she would dismiss Australia captain Meg Lanning in the WBBL final. For a brief moment it looked like it could become a nightmare, but very soon the dream came true.
Overall, Ismail produced a blistering four-over spell off the reel to spearhead the Thunder’s title victory, but it was her seven-ball contest with Lanning that was utterly compelling.
At the end of her opening over, she had Lanning dropped at point by Tammy Beaumont. “I just dropped it. I should have taken it. Oh well,” was Beaumont’s matter-of-fact response as the player on the TV mic, perhaps a window into the Thunder’s calmness. But revenge came a short while later when, given her fourth and final over by Rachael Haynes, Ismail found Lanning’s outside edge and with put one hand on the trophy.
“We said how we wanted to take wickets in the Powerplay and last night I was lying in bed thinking how I would get Meg Lanning out,” she said. “It’s a very key wicket for the Stars and I thought if I come out there and just bowl heat, change a few things, I could take wickets.
“You don’t want to be dropping big players like that, they can haunt you, but I thought just stick to my guns and still bowl what I think will keep us in the game.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Thunder limit Stars to lowest-ever WBBL final score (US only)
In combination with Sammy-Jo Johnson, whose darting away movement was equally impressive as she had Elyse Villani poking at fresh air, they put in one of the most complete Powerplay performances of the tournament.
“You could see that we had it under control all the way, when the first three wickets [fell] we had the game in hand,” Ismail said.
Johnson, who joined from two-time champions Brisbane Heat in pre-season, has been key to the Thunder’s performances at both ends of the innings – forming a powerful death combination with Hannah Darlington – and was delighted to be able to bowl first.
“I don’t think words can describe how I feel. it was a great team effort”
Shabnim Ismail is the Player of the #WBBL06 final
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) November 28, 2020
“We were quite surprised they wanted to bat first so we were really happy. The wicket was seaming around a fair bit: myself, Shabs and [Sam] Bates up front we set the tone,” she said. “We spoke about it during the last few games that if we could work in a partnership and put the top batters under pressure that hopefully we’d come out with the result.”
Like the Thunder, Ismail saved her best for the competition run-in to finish with 14 wickets at 20.28 and an economy rate of 5.56 which also included 3 for 10 in the final group match against Hobart Hurricanes that booked a spot in the semi-final.
“Today we saw Shabhim at her best, some real pace, the areas she was hitting,” Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said. “I think we also need to remember for her it’s been a different year: she’s not played any cricket since the World Cup, so it took time to get back into playing and she’s certainly peaked at the right time.
“We’ve been looking at the impact charts and areas the girls have been hitting. We talk about hitting the stumps consistently and when we looked at the detail today, they were [all] hitting those areas consistently and creating chances. That’s certainly some of best bowling I’ve seen us do.”