Sydney Thunder will meet the Melbourne Stars in the Rebel WBBL final after their bowlers secured a remarkable fightback semi-final win at North Sydney Oval.
Set 145 for victory thanks to Thunder captain Rachael Haynes’ gritty 48 not out, Laura Kimmince (27 off 17) had the Heat on course for victory.
But after three calamitous run outs, left-arm spinner Sam Bates (2-37) and teen pacer Hannah Darlington (3-19) triggered a late collapse of 4-2 to dismiss their rivals for 131 and claim a 12-run win.
After Bates picked up the wicket of Grace Harris for the third time in as many innings this season, bowling the hard-hitting opener for six in the second over of the chase, the Heat promoted South African Nadine de Klerk to No.3.
Georgia Redmayne looked to be continuing her excellent tournament as she struck three boundaries and a six, but the re-introduction of Sammy-Jo Johnson (2-14) got the wicket the Thunder were seeking when Redmayne was caught at mid-on for 25.
De Klerk (27) and Jonassen (19) made starts but wickets continued to fall as the Heat captain skied a return catch to Darlington and de Klerk was run out courtesy of a brilliant direct hit from Tammy Beaumont.
Kimmince, the surprise packet of WBBL|06, miraculously survived a first-ball scare when a bottom edge off the bowling of Bates hit the stumps but did not dislodge the bail, and she immediately capitalised hitting the next delivery for six.
She launched into off-spinner Lauren Smith, hitting 20 runs off four deliveries, before two disastrous mix-ups saw both Georgia Voll (8) and Amelia Kerr (1) run out as the semi took yet another twist.
Another massive Kimmince maximum had the Heat needing 15 off 20, but Bates bit back to bowl her rival for a 17-ball 37, once again creaking the door open for the Thunder.
As the decision to omit New Zealand batter Maddy Green left it to the inexperienced Charli Knott and the tail to see the Heat home, Darlington struck twice in two deliveries, both superb yorkers, to put the Thunder one wicket away from the final.
Fittingly, it was Johnson sealed victory against her old side, claiming a return catch as the Heat were bowled out in 18.3 overs.
Sent in by the Heat, a mix-up between Thunder openers Beaumont and Rachel Trenaman saw the latter run out for six thanks to a Laura Kimmince direct hit.
Beaumont produced her most aggressive knock of the tournament, striking six boundaries and racing to 27 before a misjudged scoop off a Nicola Hancock slower ball proved her undoing.
Knight, one of the form batters of the tournament, was kept quiet by the Heat spinners and the pressure applied paid off when she was sharply caught by Jess Jonassen at extra cover, gone for 17 off 22.
Amelia Kerr entered the fray, bowling Phoebe Litchfield (7) with a trademark wrong’un, while the dangerous Johnson (13) could not get going, caught by Georiga Prestwidge on the deep mid-wicket boundary.
However Haynes remained, digging in and then unleashing late in the innings, hitting a six and a four from Delissa Kimmince’s final over, taking her team to 6-143.