Strikers wilt as Thunder prevail under pressure to keep BBL dreams alive
The Sydney Thunder capitalised on a stunning Adelaide Strikers collapse to snatch an eight-run win and move within a match of the Big Bash League final.
Set a meagre 152 for victory on Saturday, the Strikers were cruising towards a comfortable victory before Daniel Sams (3-26) and Chris Morris (2-22) instigated the loss of five wickets for 24 runs.
Star batsman Alex Hales top scored with 59 for the Thunder, who finished four points behind Adelaide on the ladder but will now face the Melbourne Stars in a do-or-die challenger clash on Thursday.
The winner of that match will advance to face the Sydney Sixers in the February 8 final at the SCG.
Also see – BBL Most Runs
THE KEEP ON ROLLING!
What a win on the road for the @ThunderBBL. They're headed to The Challenger! #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/EJR8w1o5vp — KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) February 1, 2020
HALES GIVES THUNDER HOPE
Usman Khawaja's early exit and the loss of Callum Ferguson inside six overs could have derailed the Thunder before their innings began to take shape.
Hales had other ideas and, like he has done so regularly in the tournament, gave his team crucial quick runs at the top of the order.
The destructive England opener hammered six fours and four sixes to record his fourth half-century in five innings while dominating a 51-run stand with Alex Ross (12).
Arjun Nair (18) and all-rounder Morris (21) made handy contributions lower down the order to build a competitive total, but the Thunder would surely have been bundled out if not for their key man.
STRIKERS SQUANDER WINNING POSITION
Phil Salt's departure in the opening over of the chase failed to prevent the Strikers from making a confident start in front of an expectant Adelaide Oval crowd.
Travis Head entered and struck a quickfire 32 before Alex Carey (28) and Jonathan Wells (34) came together and produced what looked to be a match-winning partnership worth 50 runs.
Then, however, came the collapse. Australia international Carey was run out after gambling on a quick single and the promotion of Rashid Khan failed to pay dividends as he looped a catch out to deep square two balls later.
When Morris pinned Matt Short in front for a duck, the Strikers had lost three wickets for two runs and undone their good work.
Any @ThunderBBL fans feeling like Jay Lenton right now? #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/FvCcu1n1tm — KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) February 1, 2020
TREMAIN FLAILS BUT THUNDER PREVAIL
Adelaide's implosion was only matched by that of Thunder bowler Chris Tremain, who sent down three wides in a wretched 16-run 18th over that left the door ajar.
Sams made amends, conceding five runs and removing both Michael Neser and Peter Siddle the following over.
Morris then extracted a thin edge from Wells, the Strikers' famed finisher, to all but end the contest at the beginning of the 20th.
Key contributors Sams and Hales combined to let a high ball go to ground but the damage was done as the Thunder kept alive their hopes of a second BBL title.Published 01 Feb 2020, 18:36 IST