Not even a Heather Knight masterclass with the willow could see the Hobart Hurricanes home in the first of their WBBL matches against the Melbourne Stars at West Park.
The England captain rescued her side with a sublime 82 from 55 balls as Hobart recovered from 4-48 to post 6-158 in Burnie, but it was an innings that was soon pushed aside due to a more remarkable rescue mission.
A 126-run stand between acting skipper Erin Osborne and South Africa’s Mignon du Preez allowed the Stars to stage an incredible comeback of their own after they had been 4-23.
Player-of-the-match Osborne compiled 67 from 46 and du Preez was unbeaten on 59 from 38 as the Stars won by five wickets with one ball remaining on Saturday.
Fumbles in the field, with missed run-out and stumping opportunities, hindered the Hurricanes late as they fell to their second final over loss to start WBBL04, while the Stars now have a 2-0 record.
“I think we will learn a lot,’’ Knight said post-match.
“We had a really good powerplay taking those wickets first up, but (there was) a few loose balls in the middle and (we’ll need to) sharpen up a little bit tomorrow in the field as we missed a few chances.
“But that is cricket, it happens sometimes, and we know what we need to improve on tomorrow as it is quite a quick turnaround, so we need to assess it quickly and park it very quickly and get ready to go,
“A loss is a loss whether you lose in the 19th or the 12th over, but I guess that is a positive (it went into the last over). I thought we probably had enough on the board today, but there are some things we need to sharpen up.”
Knight assessed the situation beautifully when she made her way out to West Park among those early wickets, taking her time before exploding near the end of the innings, with two of her three sixes coming in the final over.
The innings was her best in the purple (with her previous best being 74) and the highest by a Hurricane in WBBL history, bettering Hayley Matthews’ 77 in 2015-16.
She hit nine fours and three sixes, with her work square of the wicket exquisite, as the Hurricanes scored 2-96 in the second half of their innings.
She found a solid ally in former captain Corrine Hall, who made a run-a-ball 26, as the two put on 51 for the fifth wicket.
While Knight starred, fellow international Smriti Mandhana didn’t fare as well, with the Indian out for a second ball duck after failing to get past Alana King at mid-off.
It was short and sharp from West Indian Hayley Matthews with the bat, who showed her hitting ability with four boundaries in a 16-ball, 18-run stay
Last weekend’s power-hitter Erin Fazackerley started in that fashion with a four straight down the ground off the first ball of the match, but managed just seven from five.
Annabel Sutherland impressed with 2-30 from her four overs for the Stars, while spinner King was in everything early.
She kept it tight with 1-24 and took two catches, with a diving effort near the boundary from pace bowler Holly Ferling delivering her her sole wicket.
Osborne’s work with the ball was also vital, taking 1-20 with her spin from four overs.
The ‘Canes struck early with the ball, sending last week’s century maker Lizelle Lee back to the pavilion in the fourth over for just two off 12, beautifully stumped by Georgia Redmayne off the bowling of Meg Phillips.
Phillips was again in the action, with a diving catch off Brooke Hepburn to dismiss Lee’s opening partner Ange Reakes for 15, before Matthews and her off-spin sent King and Katie Mack packing.
But then, like Knight, Osborne and du Preez took their time early before accelerating late, with the Stars scoring 1-101 from the last 9.5 overs of the match.
When Osborne departed in the 19th over, there was a glimmer of hope for Hobart with the Stars still needing 10 from nine, but du Preez dispatched the next ball to the boundary to extinguish that flame.
Matthew was the highlight with the ball for Hobart, with 2-23.
Osborne said the result was a sign her team could bounce back under pressure within games.
“It is really pleasing that we have been under pressure with both bat and ball in both games (and won),’’ she said.
“Against the Sixers, they came out and I think they were 0-100 after about 10 overs and the way we bounced back and held on with the ball was pretty special.
“And today the way we bounced back with the bat was special, so it is nice to know that we can hold our nerve and that we have depth with both the ball and the bat, and hopefully that will carry us a long way in the competition.”
A crowd of 1163 were at West Park for the ground’s first WBBL match.
The teams will complete their weekend duties from 10.30am on Sunday.