Shane Watson, Andre Russell keep Thunders qualification hopes alive; Stars shock Scorchers to climb to second
With one more match to go in the league stages of the Big Bash League, three semi-finalists have been decided, with the last spot to be taken either by Melbourne Renegades or Sydney Thunder, who claimed a 46-run victory over Sidney Sixers in the first game on Saturday.
Melbourne Renegades, who are at fifth spot, can still dash Thunder’s hope of qualification, but only if they beat table toppers Adelaide Strikers by at least 38 runs or with 4.3 overs to spare.
Former Australia stalwarts Shane Watson and Michael Hussey gave Thunder a rollicking start, and Andre Russell’s 20-ball 46 gave the perfect finish, as their team strove for a victory which would be essential to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-final alive. Watson’s knock, in particular, was of significant import because it might make the selectors take a second look at the discarded international for the World T20.
They scored 202/5 in their 20 overs, their first 200+ total in the tournament, choosing the perfect time to do so.
In reply, Nic Maddinson was the only batsman from the Sixers side who fired, scoring a 40-ball 70. He hit 5 sixes in his stay, the proceeds of all of which will go to a noble cause, as reported earlier. Clint McKay was the most successful Thunder bowler, finishing with 3/16 in 2.3 overs.
Stars trump Scorchers to home semi-final
Melbourne Stars, who had looked to have lost the plot earlier in the week, roared back into the equation with a huge victory over Perth Scorchers. A charge given by the middle order, with David Hussey’s 36 being the top score, ensured that Stars finished at a competitive total of 146/9, after having been rocked by early wickets.
What should have been an achievable chase, however, was made difficult by regular wickets as the Scorchers were bowled out in front of an increasingly mute WACA Stadium. Adam Voges remained not out on a 51-ball 46*, but found no support from any of his partners, who all struggled to get into double digits.
Daniel Worrall and Ben Hilfenhaus, the Stars strike bowlers, returned figures of 3/11 and 3/17, as they took second spot on the table, and an assured home semi-final at Melbourne.
If the Renegades pull off an upset win over Strikers on Sunday, then Michael Hussey, the Thunders captain, will have played his last BBL match. He received a standing ovation as he walked out to bat.