After enduring four straight defeats, Big Bash defending champions Sydney Thunder got off the mark with their first victory of this season when they pulled off a last-ball victory against the Melbourne Stars. Opting to field after winning the toss, Thunder’s bowlers initially found themselves at the receiving end of the latter’s power-packed trio of Maxwell, Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen and were in danger of conceding a huge total before making crucial inroads in the end overs to restrict them to 166.
In reply, Thunder lost their top three in the Powerplay but were resurrected by a stellar innings from Eoin Morgan to pick their first points of the season. Morgan, who was playing his last game of this edition before flying to India for the ODI series, finished the match with a six and was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’.
Brief Scores: Melbourne Stars – 166/8 (Kevin Pietersen 60(37), Glenn Maxwell 34(22); Shane Watson 3/23(4), Chris Green 2/26(4), Fawad Ahmed 2/30(4));Sydney Thunder – 166/4 (Eoin Morgan 71*(50), Kurtis Patterson 28(18); Ben Hilfenhaus 2/39(4))
#5 Maxwell and Wright deal in boundaries
Put into bat first, openers Glenn Maxwell and Luke Wright got Melbourne Stars off to a flying start. Off-spinner Chris Green opened the bowling for Thunder with a tidy five-run over. Thereafter, the pair dealt in boundaries, bringing up 40 in the first four overs.
Pat Cummins was welcomed by Maxwell with three boundaries while Russell was cut and flicked hard by Wright.
Gurinder Sandhu’s medium pace was also taken for runs as the duo threatened to run away with the game. However, Maxwell was dismissed on 28 by Thunder’s captain Shane Watson. His cheeky attempt to scoop Watson over short fine-leg only ended up in the hands of Patterson, who dived and picked the catch, inches from the ground.
#4 Vintage KP turns back the clock
England discard Kevin Pietersen walked in at No.3 at the fall of Maxwell. Wright continued his onslaught, smashing Cummins over long-on for six and a four off the next ball but departed soon after, offering a return catch to leg-break bowler Fawad Ahmed.
With both the openers back in the pavilion, Pietersen started cautiously as he combined with the experienced David Hussey for a brief 24-run partnership for the 3rd wicket but the latter soon became Ahmed’s second victim when he played across the line to a tossed-up delivery. Joined by Faulkner, Pietersen swiftly changed gears, dominating a 56-run partnership with the former.
Erring in line and length, Sandhu bowled short and wide to concede 21 runs in the 15th over as Pietersen raced past his fifty, hitting three boundaries and one over the ropes in the over. However, he was dismissed in the next over by a low full-toss from Watson.
#3 Losing the plot in the death overs
At 147/4 by the start of the 16th over, the Melbourne Stars looked well set for a score above 180 and more but they slipped in remarkable fashion. The last 5 overs of their innings saw the Stars score only 20 runs and lose as many as five wickets.
Chris Green pegged back the stumps of Faulkner and Sam Harper in his final over and finished with figures of 2/26. Zampa became Watson’s third victim in the next over, slicing a fullish delivery straight to Rohrer at point. Hilfenhaus’ also ended up spooning a catch to Rohrer.
#2 Thunder stutters at the start
Chasing 167 to clinch their first victory of the season, Thunder did not start in ideal fashion, losing their top three by the end of the Powerplay. A double-wicket over from Hilfenhaus saw Aiden Blizzard and captain Watson go back to the pavilion without doing any damage.
Blizzard missed an incoming delivery, while Watson’s poor run with the bat continued when he poked tentatively at a good length delivery from Hilfenhaus, shaping away from off. When Rohrer under-edged a shorter delivery from Zampa into his stumps, Thunder had slipped to 85/4 in the 13th over, needing to score at more than 12 per over.
#1 Eoin Morgan does a Miandad
Morgan started slowly, managing to score only 19 from the first 30 deliveries faced by him. However, as was the case in the first innings, the match took a decisive turn in the 15th over when he smashed a four and six off the first two deliveries of the over bowled by Michael Beer.
The duo of Morgan and Cummins interspersed boundaries with deft running to bring the equation down to 16 required off the last over bowled by Hilfenhaus. When Cummins slogged the third ball of the over to the deep mid-wicket fence and turned the strike over in the next, it had narrowed down to 7 required off the last two deliveries.
Morgan scampered for a risky couple in the penultimate delivery, leaving 5 runs off the last ball and only the option of clearing the fence to clinch victory. Repeating Ashton Agar’s heroics from last week, Morgan hit Hilfenhaus straight down the ground to deafening roars from their home ground.