Even though all the other teams had begun their campaign in this Big Bash edition, Melbourne Stars had to wait for almost a week before kick starting theirs. They were up against the Hobart Hurricanes who had smashed Sydney Sixers in their opening game.
Following an early wobble, the Hurricanes surged to a formidable total of 188. On a pitch which did not have much in it for the bowlers, the score was not anywhere near enough as the Stars completed the chase in clinical fashion to get their season off to a winning start.
Brief Scores: Hobart Hurricanes – 188/4 from 20 overs (Tim Paine 91, George Bailey 74*, Ben Hilfenhaus 3/38, Glenn Maxwell 1/12); Melbourne Stars – 191/3 from 17.4 overs (Rob Quiney 75, Maxwell 58*, Luke Wright 48, Stuart Broad 2/35)
Result: Melbourne Stars won by 7 wickets with 14 balls to spare
#5 Hilfenhaus takes two in two
It has been more than four years since Ben Hilfenhaus last got a game for Australia in any format. A handy new-ball bowler with 99 Test wickets, he has regularly been plagued by injuries. Fresher and fitter now, it did not take too long for the 33-year old to impose himself on Hobart’s top-order batsmen.
The very first delivery of his spell was quite unplayable – full and straight with a hint of inward movement. D’Arcy Short could not decipher the length even as the ball crashed on to the stumps. Next up, Hilfenhaus castled Dom Michael with a delivery which was almost a carbon copy of the previous one.
However, a loose full toss was put away by Kumar Sangakkara and the hat-trick did not materialize.
#4 Sangakkara falls for the trap
During his pomp, Kumar Sangakkara consumed off-spin and its accompanying variations without any fuss whatsoever. Case in point – his mastery over Saeed Ajmal (at the early part of this decade) when no other batsman (let alone left-hander) seemed to unlock the mystery. Now playing only in franchise T20 tournaments across the globe, the stalwart needed a strong start to this one to get back into groove.
He walked into a precarious situation with his team at 6/2 halfway through the second over. After getting a waist-high full toss outside the off stump, Sangakkara began to settle in nicely with a handsome pull shot interspersed by deft nudges. When Glenn Maxwell was brought into the attack, the Sri Lankan maestro’s eyes lit up. But, a well-flighted delivery enticed him to step out and mistime it right into long-off’s throat.
#3 Paine and Bailey take control
Having lost their first three wickets for just 32 runs, the Hurricanes were teetering on the brink of a catastrophic collapse. The experienced George Bailey joined his skipper Tim Paine in the middle with a rescue act badly required.
The duo targeted James Faulkner and his assortment of slower deliveries. When confronted by different types of spin, they kept piercing the gaps to put pressure back on the Stars. As the last six overs loomed, it was time to press on the accelerator with Marcus Stoinis‘ medium pace becoming the biggest casualty.
While Paine motored to a 61-ball 91, Bailey remained not out on 74 at a strike-rate of 160.86.
#2 Everything begins at the top
The pre-requisites for any modern-day white-ball chase includes a strong statement from the top-order. Unlike their counterparts, the Stars got off to a powerful start on the back of Rob Quiney and Luke Wright’s heroics.
Despite the Hurricanes bowling attack featuring the likes of Shaun Tait and Stuart Broad, the openers managed to set the pace early. Even a semblance of waywardness did not escape the long-handle treatment. Wright took on the aggressor role and made full use of a stumping reprieve to cruise to a 29-ball 48. Once he departed, Quiney received the baton to continue the momentum.
#5 Tait in the firing line as Maxwell brings the curtains down
Even though the Hurricanes managed to procure a breakthrough in the form of Wright’s wicket, they remained wary as Maxwell stepped into the arena. As he so often does, the hard-hitter looked to rotate the strike before bringing out the big shots.
After easing his way through to a couple of boundaries, Maxwell set his sights on Shaun Tait who had conceded 28 runs from his first two overs. The 33-year old speedster’s attempt at intimidating the batsman with steep pace fell flat as the ball went sailing past the backward point boundary. His next over saw Maxwell plunder four boundaries which only hastened the end.