A career-best six-wicket haul from Kiwi leg-spinner Ish Sodhi knocked out Sydney Thunder from the tournament, in what was a must-win game against Adelaide Strikers for the defending champions of the Big Bash.
Needing a win to stay alive, the Shane Watson-led side put up a miserable performance to crash out of the tournament. Thunder’s season started on a sour note with four consecutive defeats, but they registered consecutive victories in the next three to raise a glimmer of hope.
However, they were bowled out for 101 by the 16th over while chasing 178 - the highest score at Sydney Spotless Stadium. On the other hand, the Adelaide Strikers, who were already out of contention, signed off on a high.
Brief Scores: Adelaide Strikers – 178/5 (Ben Dunk 65 (40), Kieron Pollard 47 (22), Brad Hodge 39 (32); Shane Watson 2/42 (4), Carlos Brathwaite 1/33 (4));Sydney Thunder – 101 all out in 15.3 overs (Shane Watson 39 (26), Kurtis Patterson 29 (29); Ish Sodhi 6/11(3.3), Liam O'Connor 1/25(4));
#5 Dunk completes stellar season
Though the Strikers did not quite make the season count, one man who did, was Ben Dunk – a standout performer for the team. Dunk, formerly a Hobart Hurricanes player, scored 364 runs in his first season for the Strikers and became the first player to make more than 350 runs in a BBL season twice.
Despite the failings of the rest of the Strikers’ batting – with the exception of captain Brad Hodge – Dunk had been providing his side with good starts, his consistency underlined by the fact that he had crossed 30 in 7 out of the 8 occasions he batted and converted 3 of them into fifties.
In posting a score of 178 today, Dunk was once again the chief architect, scoring 65 off 40 balls. Dunk and Hodge put together a quick-fire 92-run partnership for the 2nd wicket, scoring at more than 10 per over.
#4 Pollard deals in sixes
Hodge departed for 39 in the 13th over and Dunk followed soon after. The two quick wickets brought the well-built Kieron Pollard to the crease. He quickly started off with a one-handed strike over long-on against the leg-spin of Fawad Ahmed and then quietly settled into his innings, clipping the ball around for ones and twos until the dismissal of Lehmann.
Thereafter, he bludgeoned as many as four sixes in his next seven deliveries. A juicy full-toss from Brathwaite was hit flat over the long-on fence. Pollard then reached his highest score in the tournament, pulling a shortish delivery from McKay over deep mid-wicket.
He crunched two more sixes in Watson’s over – one over deep square-leg and the other over long-on – before being caught short of the crease while attempting a run off the penultimate ball of the Strikers’ innings. By the end of his knock, Pollard had scored 47 runs, including 5 sixes and not a single four.
#3 Hodge’s bowling changes work wonders
The Strikers started their defence of the target on a bright note, with a maiden off the first over and a wicket in the second. Michael Neser swung the ball both ways as Patterson struggled to get bat on ball. Coming off a stellar knock, Pollard was given new ball duty with Neser and accounted for James Vince in just the second delivery of his spell.
This dismissal brought captain Shane Watson and Patterson together and the pair set up a crucial 58-run partnership for the 2nd wicket. Watson in particular, looked in ominous touch, having struck three fours and a six in a 20-run over from Pollard.
Just when the duo looked like they would take the game away, Hodge made the odd move of giving the ball to Jake Lehmann, who had never picked a wicket in first-class cricket.He only bowled the solitary over, but the move worked wonders as Lehmann picked up Watson’s wicket, having him caught at long-on.
The wicket changed the course of the game and triggered the Thunder’s collapse.
#2 Brathwaite show doesn’t last long
After Andre Russell’s coloured bat made headlines, Carlos Brathwaite walked into bat at No. 5 today with a huge green bat. However, the bat couldn’t produce any kind of magic as he was dismissed cheaply.
Tempted by a flighted delivery from Sodhi, Brathwaite attempted a wild slog, only to miss the pitch and line of the wrong’un and see his stumps shattered. The delivery was a leg-spinner’s delight and gave hints of what was to come from Sodhi.
#1 Sodhi delivers leg-spinning masterclass
Brathwaite was the first of as many as six Sodhi victims as the leggie delivered an absolute masterclass. The Kiwi leg-spinner - remembered for his exploits against India in the World T20 last year - was on the top of his game as he wrapped up the Thunder batting with 6 wickets off 21 deliveries.
Rohrer was bowled by one that drifted away in the air and turned back viciously after pitching. Lenton was trapped in front by another wrong-un and Arjun Nair’s thin edge off a ball turning away was pouched by the wicket-keeper. Sodhi cleaned up the tail with 2 more wickets off his final over, to finish with dream figures of 6/11 - the second-best in the tournament's history.