Watson stars as Thunder edge Sydney derby
Shane Watson played a captain's innings to lead Sydney Thunder to a nail-biting last-ball derby victory over the Sixers in the opening game of the 2017-18 Big Bash League.
The Thunder finished bottom of the table last season in a disappointing defence of their 2015-16 title, but their prospects look more promising after Tuesday's dramatic five-wicket success.
Watson was pivotal in kicking the campaign off with a win as he hit 77 off 46 balls, a knock that included 12 boundaries and anchored the Thunder's response.
The all-rounder's efforts with the bat came after Fawad Ahmed starred with the ball, the spinner claiming sensational figures of 2-11 from his four overs – a spell that did not concede a boundary.
Ahmed and Arjun Nair helped limit the Sixers to 149-9 from their 20 overs, Moises Henriques' side having been 55-1 after six.
After a shaky start the Thunder found their feet, but they needed 10 from Nair in the final over to reach their 150-run target.
So good to see @ShaneRWatson33 in full flight! How good is it having the BBL back?— Glenn Maxwell (@Gmaxi_32) December 19, 2017
FAWAD THE SPIN KING
After the Sixers made a stirring start it was Ahmed who halted their progress with a stunning spell.
He started with a wicket maiden and also bowled 13 dot balls, stunting the Sixers and bringing the Thunder back into contention – Ahmed taking two wickets in the process.
MORE ENGLISH WOE
It has been a month of disappointment for England's cricketers in the Ashes, and even those not involved with the national team are struggling on Australian soil.
Jason Roy was the first man out for the Sixers with just two from five balls, and Jos Buttler fared no better as he was removed for a duck in the first over of the Thunder's reply.
8.1 - Jos Buttler has averaged 8.1 across his last 10 T20 innings; posting more than 15 just once in that time (26). Rut. #BBL07— OptaJim (@OptaJim) December 19, 2017
It capped a painful day for the wicketkeeper after being hit on the helmet when trying to run out Peter Nevill, a throw from the deep rearing up and striking him on the head.
SAMS STARS ON BBL DEBUT
Not many had heard of Daniel Sams when he was named in the Sixers' line-up, and it's no surprise given he has only made three first-class appearances for Canterbury in New Zealand.
However, the 25-year-old starred with the ball as the Sixers came so close to victory.
Sams removed Buttler and Kurtis Patterson in his first spell, before returning to dismiss Ryan Gibson and crucially Watson late on – the seamer nearly claiming a sensational hat-trick.
Four for Sams! That's huge! Watson smokes one straight to Henriques and he departs for a terrific 77. Thunder need 24 off 13, Sams on a hat-trick #BBL07— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 19, 2017