Sydney Sixers 177 for 4 (Gardner 36, Burns 35, Vol 2-29) won Brisbane Heat 176 for 7 (Kerr 65, Du Preez 42, Perry 3-40) with six wickets.
Chasing 177 at Allan Border Field, Sixers started the chase strongly but still needed 38 runs from the last four overs. The game turned when Carmichael and Brown scored 22 points off the power play. Needing seven runs from the last over, Carmichael and Brown stung left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen for two singles and a double as the Sixers clinched a tense one-ball win.
The Sixers, who qualified for last season’s final, are just two points behind the fourth-place Heat, who could have secured their spot in the Finals with a win.
With their slim Finals hopes on the line, the Sixers decided to run first in overcast conditions and it initially seemed like a wise move. In a hectic start, Heat opener Grace Harris was on the verge of being run out on the first ball of the innings before succumbing to the next delivery to a sharp bounce off left-arm fast bowler Lauren Chettle. Chettle, who will be part of Australia’s upcoming tour of India, bowled superbly with the new ball and took advantage of a surface that produced a tennis ball-like bounce.
The Heat struggled to adapt to the conditions and their inability to hit boundaries on the powerplay led to Bess Heath and Georgia Redmayne sneaking in full tosses.
But Perry got her revenge when she made a sharp return catch to end Du Preez’s 42 off 27 balls. The wicket failed to stop Kerr, who set foot in a power over and smashed left-arm spinner Lynsey Smith for four successive boundaries in the 17th over.
Instead of hitting hard, Kerr focused on establishing her positioning as she expertly fired a succession of shots that penetrated the gaps on the offside.
Kerr, who made just 62 runs in her last five innings, crossed half-centuries along the way while hard-hitting Charlie Knott made 29 off 10 balls at the death. The pressure continued on the Sixers’ top players who had to curb a wild swing from seamer Nicola Hancock.
They were lucky to get going when Jonassen dropped Perry the first time. It seemed to make Heat pay as Perry smacked Knott’s offspring for 18 in the next over in an ominous sign.
But in the third period Perry was caught at the back after driving loosely which resulted in a struggling Susie Bates arriving. A few lively strokes took her past 20 for only the third time this season, but she was unable to kick and fell to Jonassen in 26th.
Similar to Betts, Erin Burns had a lean season where her highlights were limited to stunning play. She launched the spinners over deep midwicket to devastating effect and combined for a 61-run partnership with Gardner.
The momentum was leaning toward the Sixers as Kerr was penalized five runs for their cause with the help of the towel she was using to dry the ball.
Burns and Gardner holed up on three handoffs before the 51-year partnership of Carmichael and Brown breathed life into the Sixers’ season.
Tristan Lavallette is a journalist based in Perth