Sydney Thunder won the Knockout against Adelaide Strikers in the BBL by 8 runs at Adelaide Oval. The Thunder will now face Melbourne Stars in the Challenger at Melbourne on 6 February, the winner of which will lock horns with Sydney Sixers in the final on 8 February for the coveted trophy.
Adelaide Strikers won the toss and opted to bowl first. The decision was proved right by the Strikers' bowlers as they took wickets at regular intervals and restricted the Thunder to 151-7 in 20 overs.
Chasing 152, the Strikers cruised towards the victory banking on the partnership of Alex Carey (28 runs off 32 balls) and Jonathan Wells (34 runs off 27 balls) but lost the plot towards the end and ended up with 143-9 in 20 overs, losing the match by 8 runs.
Despite posting a below-par target, the Thunder came out as the best in the match. And on that note, let's have a look at the 3 main reasons for their victory.
Also see – BBL Most Runs
#1.The brave batting of Alex Hales and Chris Morris
Batting first, Sydney Thunder lost their opener Usman Khawaja (15 runs off 13 balls) and Callum Ferguson (1 run off 5 balls) early. However, the other opener Alex Hales (59 runs off 35 balls) stood strong at the other end and shouldered the responsibility of taking the Thunder's innings forward. Hales had a slow start, scoring his first four runs off 10 balls. But it did not take him long to go after the bowlers and boost the Thunder's scoring rate. Although he got out to Rashid Khan (1/24) soon after completing his fifty, at that time the Thunder's scoreboard read 89-3 in 11.1 overs which meant he had set the platform for the next batsmen to score runs with ease.
But a scratchy innings from Alex Ross (12 runs off 20 balls) slowed down the Thunder's innings, making things difficult for them. Just when the match seemed to be going out of the Thunder's hands, Chris Morris (21 runs off 14 balls) rescued the team with some much-needed runs.and helped the team to reach 151-7 from where a win looked possible.
The explosive batting of Hales and the cameo of Chris Morris kept the Thunder's innings going and gave their bowlers a total which was possible to defend.
#2. The Alex Carey run-out opened the gates for the Thunder
Adelaide Strikers lost both Jake Weatherald (18 runs off 14 balls) and Philip Salt (5 runs off 4 balls) early. But Travis Head (32 runs off 23 balls) and Alex Carey (28 runs off 32 balls) kept the Strikers in the chase. While Head took the charge, Carey played second fiddle to him. Carey continued to play a supportive role and added 50 runs (35 balls) with Jonathan Wells (34 runs off 27 balls). And at one time, it looked as if the Strikers would cross the finish line comfortably.
But all of a sudden, the match tilted in Thunder's favour as Alex Carey found himself well short of the crease in the last ball of the 15th over. Carey played the ball to the short cover area and tried to steal a single. But an underarm throw from Callum Ferguson ended Carey's stay at the crease and left the Strikers at 115-4 at the end of the 15th over.
Although the Strikers had ample batting in the lineup, the batsmen could not score the the remaining required runs to win the match. The dismissals of Rashid Khan (0 run off 2 balls), Matthew Short (0 run off 4 balls) and Michael Neser (12 runs off 8 balls) could not hang around to support Wells to complete the chase. And all their hopes of winning the match ended when Wells lost his wicket in the first delivery of the last over, leaving them at 143-9 in 20 overs.
The wicket of Alex Carey started the collapse of the Sixers' batting as they kept losing wickets one after another, eventually handing the game to the Thunder.
#3. Thunder's bowlers were brilliant in the last 5 overs
The Strikers needed 37 runs from the last 5 overs. Although they lost Carey in the last ball of the 15th over, with Jonathan Wells still at the crease, the Strikers looked well in control of the game.
Despite getting rid of the Strikers' openers in the powerplay, the Thunder's bowlers could not do much to control the scoring rate of their opponent till the 15th over.But much to the Strikers' surprise, the Thunder's bowlers came to their own pond from the 16th over as Jonathan Cook (2/16) gave away just 1 run in the 16th over and took the wicket of Rashid Khan which was followed by another economical over from Chris Morris (2/22) which yielded the wicket of Matthew Short.
Although Chris Tremain (1/40) was taken away for 16 runs in the 18th over, Daniel Sams (3/26) and Chris Morris successfully defended 18 runs off the last two overs by sending three Strikers' batsmen back into the hut.
A disciplined show by the Thunder's bowlers in the last 5 overs turned the tide of the match towards their side and won them the match by 8 runs.Published 01 Feb 2020, 22:55 IST