Stars v Thunder, BBL 2012-13, Melbourne

Stars overcome Gayle blitz to reach semis

The Report by Alex Malcolm

January 8, 2013

Comments: 17 | Text size: A | A

Melbourne Stars 8 for 145 (Hodge 39, Hussey 32) beat Sydney Thunder 132 (Gayle 65, Faulkner 3-24) by 13 runs
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Chris Gayle reached his 50 off 25 balls, Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder, Big Bash League, MCG, January 8, 2013
Chris Gayle hit the fastest fifty of the BBL, off 25 balls © Getty Images
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It took eight rounds across 31 days for Chris Gayle to deliver and yet, incredibly, Sydney Thunder lost again to gift the Melbourne Stars a semi-final berth. The Stars' tournament chances had seemingly slipped after setting what appeared an underwhelming target of 146 for Thunder to chase.

When Gayle lit up the MCG with the fastest fifty of the BBL, off just 25 balls, Thunder's 12-match losing streak looked to be dead and buried along with the Stars' season. The Sydney franchise had not won since Gayle was last the Man of the Match, for a 54-ball century in December 2011 against Adelaide Strikers at the ANZ Stadium.

Gayle hurtled towards three figures here as he displayed his brutal power. He thumped Jackson Bird over the sightscreen in the second over, showing utter disdain for Bird's Test match form. Gayle then clubbed 19 runs from John Hastings' first over, including a flat-bat down the ground, a ramp over third man, a conventional cut to point, and a contemptuous slap that cleared the longest boundary on the ground at midwicket.

He had some luck, with Cameron White failing to lay a hand on a towering sky ball, and it seemed then that the prize scalp of Gayle and a semi-final berth might have escaped the Stars' grasp. Gayle scored 50 of the 59 runs that came in the Powerplay, with Simon Keen the only wicket to fall.

Matt Prior played a slow hand by comparison to Gayle. His 16-ball 7 ended when he holed out to a superb running catch at long-on by Bird. But it brought the in-form Usman Khawaja to the crease and the chase seemed a fait accompli. Thunder needed 55 from 48 balls with Gayle and Khawaja in complete command before Gayle tried to clear the rope for a fifth time, only to be caught by Glenn Maxwell for 65.

Khawaja inexplicably sliced Bird to Brad Hodge at deep point the following over and what seemed impossible at the start of the 13th over suddenly appeared inevitable.

Thunder conspired to lose their last eight wickets for just 41 runs to be bowled out 13 short of their target and consign themselves to a winless season and a 13th straight loss as a franchise. All the Stars bowlers were gifted at least a wicket each. James Faulkner bagged three and Dimitri Mascarenhas picked up two in his first game for the Stars as a replacement for Lasith Malinga.

Earlier, Stars looked to have blown a golden chance to make the semi-finals when they compiled only 8 for 145 having elected to bat.

Luke Wright ran himself out early. Rob Quiney appeared to have found some much needed touch only for his promising innings of 22 to end when he hit Sean Abbott straight up in the air and was caught by Khawaja.

Brad Hodge and David Hussey were left to mount a rescue mission, as they have done so often on this ground together. Hodge again showed his class making 39 from just 26 balls before he played around a full delivery from Dirk Nannes. Hussey did as a Hussey so often does, compiling a busy 32 that featured only one boundary.

But the innings fell away badly from there. The Stars managed just 18 runs from the last 25 balls, and lost four wickets in the process. Fortunately for the Stars, Thunder's finish was even more calamitous and Shane Warne will get another chance to captain his side having been forced to watch tonight from the confines of the change rooms due to his suspension.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (January 9, 2013, 12:38 GMT)

Khawaja was the only star for Thunder, but boy will the Stars miss their key players in the semis, Hussey, Mckay, Hastings, Malinga will all be missing for their semi final.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (January 9, 2013, 10:05 GMT)

Yes Macca i saw it, it was very funny, interesting night altogether and I have also noticed Khawaja's aggression in batting, good on hiim, another thing he can tick off for his improvement list. @Aneek lets hope Khawaja gets to be Hussey's replacement, will be well deserved. How good is Brad Hodge, even at 38 his batting and fielding is as sharp as it was in his 20s.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2013, 7:20 GMT)

Khawaja should replace Hussey. His time has come. Great talent, finally matured.

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 9, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

i dont understand the recruiting done by the BBL teams. why on earth would the thunder get matt prior? he was an embarrassment, unable to play the game, looked like he had picked up a cricket bat for the first time in his life and he didnt even keep. ridiculous when there are so many awesome players out there. renegades are taking the mickey replacing samuels with alex hales, who is that? import players should be paid on a performance basis , most of them havent cut it at the BBL level for one reason or another. the whole purpose of getting imports is to get the best players in the world big names, not players who are club level standard in australia like lumb, hales and prior. and if you cant get to big foreign names then save your money and play locals who are probably going to be better anyway

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 9, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

@Srriaj317 agree with you, the Thunder should just focus on their local players such as Khawaja who has been their best batsman this year. Having the local guys like this will not only help them win but get the crowds in as the target audience will identify with these guys much more. Having Rogers as captain did not pay off not only because he is inexperienced in this format but because the crowd did not identify with him as leader. Have either Gayle or Khawaja as captain next year

Posted by hycIass on (January 9, 2013, 4:13 GMT)

Khawaja is the only player in Thunder who has scored this year, 250 runs this big bash and is showing an aggressive side to his game which i didn't think he had. Gayle finally came through last night but he has been dissapointing for the Thunder. I am predicting that either Hobart or Scorchers will win as both Melbourne teams will lose their key players to the Aus ODI duties.

Posted by On_The_Boundary on (January 9, 2013, 2:51 GMT)

And yet again, the fast food version of the game proves the joke's still on the fans for supporting this silliness.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2013, 2:15 GMT)

@maf17 I agree, Sydney & Melbourne fans dont quite know which team to support. In Sydney its easy to just like the 6'ers cause they win. In Melbourne people just jump ship to the latest winner. If they want it city based then at least say the thunder are west sydney & 6ers are sydney city (Their home grounds are based there anyway!)

Posted by sahajb on (January 9, 2013, 1:20 GMT)

@truesupporter , malinga has gone back in ODI team for srilanka so his BBL is over now.

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