Doherty helps Hurricanes continue winning streak
Hobart Hurricanes 4 for 171 (Birt 44, Shah 36*) beat Adelaide Strikers 8 for 157 (Cooper 43, Doherty 4-17)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Hobart Hurricanes Twenty20 blueprint, or more accurately purpleprint, has worked again. This time the Adelaide Strikers succumbed to Xavier Doherty's team by 14 runs at the Adelaide Oval in front of more than 27,000 patrons.
The Hurricanes skipper Doherty was again the chief architect of the win, taking 4 for 17 in a match-winning display of spin bowling. His side have now won three from three and sit atop the BBL table. But the identical nature of the three wins is most intriguing, although tonight's victory was their toughest yet.
For the third consecutive match Doherty won the toss and elected to bat. For the third consecutive time the Hurricanes had eight or more wickets in hand with 10 overs to go, having crawled through the first half of their innings at less than seven runs per over.
Yet they were able to post 4 for 171. Again it was Travis Birt who ignited the Hurricanes. In the eleventh over, having faced only two balls after Jonathan Wells fell to Johan Botha at the start of the tenth, Birt launched an assault on Bryce McGain. He clubbed two sixes and one four from the over. McGain had delivered two overs that cost 29.
Only 15 runs came from the next three overs however. McGain was held back while Kane Richardson, Aaron O'Brien, and Alfonso Thomas tied Phil Jaques in knots. McGain exacted some revenge when he ended Jaques' 42-ball stay at the start of the 15th over. Jaques' 41, which included just two boundaries, left onlookers wondering if the Hurricanes tactics had finally come unstuck.
Enter English import Owais Shah. He smashed 36 unbeaten runs from just 18 balls. He and Birt again accelerated the innings at a rapid rate. Birt thumped 44 from 26 including three fours and three sixes. He became Botha's second scalp in the 18th over, but it did not slow the rate. Shah, in combination with Matt Johnston, orchestrated 66 from the last five overs to push the total to 171.
The Strikers bowling group were reasonably impressive. Botha, O'Brien, Thomas and Richardson all conceded eight an over or less. But McGain's four overs cost 49, which meant the Strikers were chasing a testing target. No side had ever chased more than 170 in a T20 in Adelaide.
With the spinners having done well in the Hurricanes' innings, Doherty and Jason Krejza opened the bowling but conceded 19 in the first two overs to Aiden Blizzard. Doherty then put on a masterclass of T20 bowling. He clean bowled Blizzard in the third over before saving his last two overs for the second half of the innings.
In between he mixed and matched his bowlers well. Johnston bowled two overs for just nine. His awkward action, with which he delivers swerving inswingers off the wrong foot, caused significant difficulties for Michael Klinger and Adam Crosthwaite. Krejza returned to dismiss Crosthwaite lbw, while Rana Naved picked up the vital wicket of Callum Ferguson, in the following over, with Rhett Lockyear clutching a sharp chance in the gully.
Doherty brought himself back on in the eleventh over to bowl at the key partnership of Klinger and Cameron Borgas. He struck immediately, forcing a miss-hit from his opposing captain, and only conceded three from the over.
Klinger's dismissal left the Strikers needing 99 from 55 balls. Borgas and Tom Cooper were unperturbed by the absurdity of the task. They ramped balls over the keeper's head, switch-hit boundaries through backward point, and generally caused Hobart headaches in their 62-run partnership. Cooper even hit Rana onto the roof of the Chappell Stands.
But Rana removed Borgas later in the 17th over. Tom Triffitt, the wicketkeeper, held his nerve under the towering skier, something Krejza had failed to do the previous delivery, but the game was still alive with the Strikers needing 37 from 18 balls.
Ben Laughlin delivered the 18th over that cost just nine and saw Botha being run out.
Then Doherty delivered the last rites. He bowled Richardson and O'Brien in consecutive balls to finish with four wickets. After his first over had cost nine, his next three yielded figures of 4 for 8.
Cooper was left stranded on 44 having hit five fours along with his enormous six. The Strikers may well lament that he was only able to face 27 deliveries as their chase went awry. The Strikers have now lost two in succession after thumping the Renegades in their opening match.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth