Opening fast-medium bowler Shabnim Ismail made her debut for South Africa as they emerged from their wilderness years in 2007, and quickly became their all-time leading international wicket-taker, a position she maintained throughout her career, having taken 149 international wickets up to and including the 2016 Women’s World T20 in India.
Today she won the player of the match award when Sydney Thunder defeated Melbourne Stars. — with her dimsissal of star batswoman Meg Lanning as a critical moment in this process.
MATCH REPORT: Sydney Thunder 3 for 87 beat Melbourne Stars 9 for 86 (Johnson 2-11, Ismail 2-12) by seven wickets
A searing opening spell from Shabnim Ismail and menacing seam by Sammy-Jo Johnson set up the Sydney Thunder for title glory in overwhelming fashion against the tournament pace-setters Melbourne Stars, who crumbled for the lowest total in a WBBL final.
Ismail, named Player of the Match, took 2 for 12 from her four overs, and could easily have more, claiming the vital scalps of Meg Lanning alongside Elyse Villani. The entire Thunder attack played their part, with all six bowlers taking at least a wicket, and such was their dominance that five dropped catches (one of them off Lanning) did not come back to bite them.
The Stars limped through their 20 overs with Katherine Brunt top scoring with 22, but for such a power-packed batting order the innings included just three fours and two sixes. It was fitting that the Thunder’s attack was so central to their success: if you take it back to the semi-final, when they fought back against defending champions Brisbane Heat where the game seemed lost, they had taken 15 for 98.
The chase wasn’t without its occasional moment of unease, but the target was reached in a rush through a collection of crisp boundaries of by captain Rachael Haynes, who led the side superbly in the biggest match, and Heather Knight, who secured the title with a straight six.