Last it was Sydney Sixers, who came to Adelaide to play against the Strikers. Interestingly, last year the Strikers were again the table toppers and then the Sixers defeated them in the semis and marched into t finals. This time, again a Sydney team repeated the same performance; Sydney Thunder today smashed a commanding victory against the Strikers and ended their BBL 2016 voyage.
Sydney Thunder somehow did not impress a lot of audiences this year and they were looked upon as a weak unit, but thanks to a glorious innings from Usman Khawaja, Thunder proved their dominance. They will meet the winner of Melbourne Stars against Perth Scorchers game to be played at the MCG tomorrow. The final will be hosted at the same ground.
Another interesting fact is that since the first edition every table topper has faced elimination in a semi-final in the BBL. The night belonged to the Thunder and Khawaja. Khawaja has been absolutely matchless this summer. In the first four overs, he already had knocked out, one-third of the total Thunder were chasing. Thunder was 53 at that stage with Khawaja smoking boundaries all around the park. Watson his opening partner on the same stage just had played 3 balls for the Thunder. Thunder knew something big coming.
Thunder and Khawaja started with Putland recalled for this important game. Khawaja played a flick in his first over and then belted him into the covers in his second over. Next up, Holland faced the same treatment as Khawaja took him for a slog sweep followed by two straight hits.
Thunder had the momentum with them. Khawaja then collected 19 runs from Neser and Thunder showed their dominance and objectives very clearly. Khawaja hit a six, a cover drive, a cut and a flick to scores al those runs for the Thunder.
Khawaja kept the fielders and commentators busy for the Thunder. The debate upstairs was about finding the shot of the night from this stylish left-handed from the Thunder. Each shot he played for the Thunder was the shot of the night. Thunder lost Watson to Laughlin, who produced a decent fifth over. But then Khawaja hit a couple of single and Thunder bench were on their feet clapping for him. Khawaja made the fastest fifty ever for the Thunder. Khawaja hit 50 of just 24 balls.
Head then was rammed over for a six and a four by Khwaja in the next over and the onslaught started again from Thunder. Thunder pursuit was disturbed a little by Adil as he was lucky enough to get the wicket of Hussey. It was a wrong call from the umpire. Hussey didn’t edge that one yet was given out caught behind. Thunder lost their second and final wicket to Adil. But then Khwaja placed a lovely cut shot and got four runs for the Thunder again.
Thunder was unstoppable, Adil’s second spell was lively and full of resistance, but by that time Thunder had already taken much of the control in the game.
Khawaja and Nicholls then moved on for the Thunder. Both the Thunder batsmen were eager for the win yet took no risk. Khawaja then broke the silence and pulled Laughlin for a six over mid-wicket and reached his second ton of the tournament. This was Khawaja, the new Khawaja n Australian cricket making his 4th hundred in seven games featuring all formats of cricket.
Strikers were never in the game, even when they were batting. Thunder just locked them up completely. Thunder had to bowl first after losing the toss, but that was the only thing they gave away to the Strikers, after it there was nothing much given and only taken by the Thunder team.
Jayawardene was back again in the team, but fell to Watson and then Russell took an extremely impressive catch to dismiss Ludeman. Head hit a couple of cover drives but then lofted one straight to the cover fielder. Hodge missed a slog sweep to Green and witnessed his stumps getting demolished.
Thunder made Strikers looked wandering at the half way stage with 4 batsmen back in the dugout for 66. It was then Ross, Lehmann, Neser and Rashid, who put in a combined effort to get 159 against Thunder. Ross played some exclusive shots first against Fawad and then Watson.
Thunder at that time saw Ross hitting Fawad for a pull and two sweep shots, all ending at the boundary. Then Thunder had to witness a fine leg glance and pull against Watson by Ross. Thunder did not panic at that stage. Thunder bowlers knew their job well enough to come and take the wicket of Lehmann first.
McKay then deceived Ross with a slower ball for the Thunder. McKay picked up three wickets for the Thunder. But in the final over McKay was hit for a couple of fours and a six by Adil. Thunder still had the faith and then came Khawaja for them. Thunder was not feeling any pressure before this game. Thunder was the only team to have beaten Strikers in the pool matches. Now the Thunder has beaten them twice.
Sydney Thunder 2 for 160
beat Adelaide Strikers 7 for 159
(Ross 47, McKay 3-44) by eight wickets