Thunder beat Stars, stay alive in WBBL

Steve Barrett
Alex Blackwell's timely return to form coincided with the Sydney Thunder's WBBL win over the Stars

Veteran Alex Blackwell enjoyed a timely return to form to help Sydney Thunder keep their WBBL finals hopes alive with an 18-run win over the Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

Blackwell's inventive 65 off 47 balls spearheaded her side's 6-162 before the Thunder bowled and fielded superbly to snap their six-game losing streak by restricting the Stars to 5-144 on Wednesday.

After enduring a recent run of outs with single figure scores in her previous five knocks, it was no accident that Blackwell finally firing again coincided with the Thunder's bounce back victory.

Opener Naomi Stalenberg (30) was aggressive early and several Thunder batters made promising starts but it was Blackwell who glued things together.

"We had to win today," Blackwell said matter-of-factly.

"I thought the Stars did a great job keeping the pressure on in their run chase.

"We're still alive in this competition but things need to go our way with other teams this weekend. We'll just control what we can."

In reply, the dangerous Lizelle Lee was adjudged lbw for a duck before Mignon du Preez (55) and skipper Elyse Villani (43) kept the Stars in the hunt with a breezy 78-run stand for the second-wicket.

Villani succumbed to a fine catch from player-of-the-match Blackwell before du Preez was stumped off spinner Sam Betts two overs later to shift momentum to the Thunder.

Erin Osborne rattled off an unbeaten 27 towards the end but with the experienced Rene Farrell (2-28) and Hannah Darlington (1-26) bowling smartly in the death overs, the Stars slipped off the pace.

The Thunder (5-7-1) need a lot to go their way to leapfrog the fourth-placed Sydney Sixers (6-5) and fifth-ranked Melbourne Renegades (6-6) into the top four but mathematically they have a chance.

They must beat the Renegades at St Kilda on Sunday and hope the Sixers lose their Hurstville Oval double-header against the high-flying Adelaide Strikers.