Ponting leads Hurricanes to comfortable win
Hobart Hurricanes 177 for 4 (Ponting 63, Paine 40, Zampa 3-26) beat Sydney Thunder 147 for 9 (Rogers 24, Keen 24, Doherty 3-32) by 30 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It was so comfortably, in fact, that Ponting was afforded an over of offspin late in the run chase, and he even claimed the wicket of Scott Coyte, but it was his return to form with the bat that was both eye-catching and significant to his team's cause.
Ponting showed glimpses in his previous innings against the Renegades and again took his time settling after Hobart was sent in on a good Bellerive surface. Ponting and Tim Paine rolled along at only a run-a-ball through the first seven overs. There were crisp strokes mixed with a lot of dot balls, as Ponting lofted Coyte majestically over the cover fence in the fifth over and Paine smeared Azhar Mahmood into the midwicket stands in the next over. Between times they found the fielders more often than the gaps.
But debutant Simon Keen's introduction triggered Ponting to shift gears. He nearly cleared the cover rope for a second time before backing away a cracking a bullet-like square-drive backward of point for consecutive boundaries. Ponting then took to Mahmood with a well-struck straight drive for four, a neatly placed flick to the fine-leg rope, and a brutal front foot pull that was hit frightfully hard over the midwicket fence to bring up his fifty.
Chris Gayle eventually knocked him over but applauded him for a wonderful hand. That sparked a mini-collapse for the Hurricanes. Paine, Travis Birt, and Aiden Blizzard all fell in quick succession to 20-year-old legspinner Adam Zampa who bowled impressively. But the experience of Owais Shah and George Bailey came to the fore, showing the depth of the Hurricanes line-up. They clubbed 54 from the last 26 balls of the innings to raise the total to 4 for 177.
The Thunder's chase started brightly on the back of the powerful pairing of Gayle and Mark Cosgrove. But when they fell in consecutive overs before the total reached 36, the Thunder's lack of depth was severely exposed. The required rate rose significantly with each passing over as Chris Rogers and Mahmood struggled to find the boundary. Both men fell for ineffective scores of 24 and 23 respectively, before Doherty delivered the knockout blows in the 17th over. His hat-trick was born more of desperate batting than classic spin bowling. But he did beat both Keen and Ryan Carters in flight before trapping Cameron Borgas lbw sweeping, although the ball looked to be spinning well wide of off stump.
Bailey had a sense theatre and gave Ponting an over to please a fervent home crowd. Coyte holed out to deep midwicket to wild cheers. They thought their home-grown hero had two when Paine, and the square-leg umpire, believed Zampa was stumped, but he was recalled when replays showed part of his backfoot was grounded behind the line.
The Thunder remain winless after four matches, while the Hurricanes rise to fourth in the standings and keep themselves in the hunt for a semi-final berth.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth