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Gardner delivers tournament-best in front of record crowd

Callan Morse -

In her final outing for WBBL|09, Ash Gardner delivered a tournament-best performance with the ball in the Sydney Sixers' comprehensive victory over the Sydney Thunder on Sunday.

In front of a record crowd of 7118 at the SCG, Gardner took four wickets as the Sixers romped to victory to end their WBBL campaign on a high, victors with nine wickets and 15 balls in hand.

Gardner's contribution with the ball was crucial in the Sixers restricting their crosstown rivals to a moderate total, bowling the Thunder out for 123 on the second last ball of the match's first innings.

The Muruwari allrounder was clinical with the ball, taking 4-26 from her four overs, her best performance with the ball since taking 3-38 against the Perth Scorchers in October.

She dismissed both Thunder openers, first bowling Tahlia Wilson (2 from 7) before picking up Chamari Athapaththu (26 from 31), after the Sri Lankan international gave up her stumps in an attempt to hit a full delivery over the offside, slicing the ball to short third.

Returning to the attack later in the innings, Gardner quickly killed off any chance of late-innings hitting from the Thunder.

She commenced the 19th over by clean bowling Olivia Porter (4 form 6) before having the dangerous Sammy-Jo Johnson (4 from 3) caught at long on three balls later.

The Sixers celebrate the wicket of Chamari Athapaththu, one of four Gardner wickets. (Image: Mike Owen/Getty Images)

Both Gumbaynggirr batter Anika Learoyd (2 from 3) and Kamilaroi seamer Hannah Darlington (0 from 3) missed out with the bat.

In defence of the mediocre score, Darlington (1-35) was the only bowler to take a wicket with the Thunder's attack unable to penetrate the Sixers' top order stacked with international Stars.

Sixers openers Ellyse Perry and New Zealand international Suzie Bates set a solid foundation for the chase, partnering in a 59-run opening stand, with Gardner joining Perry after the demise of Bates (18 from 23) in the ninth over

In typical fashion, Gardner maintained a near run-a-ball strike rate to play the support role to Perry, compiling an unbeaten 21 (22) to see the home side to victory with two and a half overs remaining.

Perry (82* from 60 and 1-20) was awarded Player of the Match.

The win sees the Sixers end their WBBL|09 campaign with a 7-7 record, earning them fifth position on the ladder.

Although defeated in the Sydney smash, the Thunder progress to The Eliminator against the Brisbane Heat at Perth's WACA Ground on Tuesday.

The victor progresses to the The Challenger against the Perth Scorchers on Wednesday with the winner to face the Adelaide Strikers at Adelaide Oval on December 2.

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