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The Report by Anuj Vignesh
January 14, 2014
Sydney Thunder 1 for 105 (Khawaja 46*, Dilshan 46) beat Melbourne Renegades 104 (Harris 30, Sandhu 3-21, Mendis 2-15) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Twenty games. Seven-hundred-and-fifty-three days. That's how long it had been since the Sydney Thunder last won a Twenty20 match. Since that time, Ricky Ponting has retired and become a commentator for the Big Bash League, and the country has had three different prime ministers. The Thunder, on their part, offloaded Chris Gayle and bolstered their ranks for the new season by signing Michael Hussey, Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis. But they could still not buy a win.
When Chris Gayle's unbeaten century helped the Thunder cruise to a six-wicket win against Adelaide Strikers on December 23, 2011, little did the team know that they would not win again for more than two years and in the process, become one of cricket's most cruel jokes in recent times.
Sydney Thunder's 19-game winless streak - incredibly not the longest in T20 cricket - led to a flurry of internet gags, with the franchise themselves using the hashtag #1inarow after this victory.
In the end though, they needed only 30 overs to put two years of misery behind them, as Gurinder Sandhu, Dilshan and Usman Khawaja masterminded a comprehensive nine-wicket win against Melbourne Renegades at the Docklands Stadium. When the winning single was taken there was only relief rather than jubilation in the Thunders' bench.
The complete domination of the Thunder over the hosts would have been unexpected considering that the team were completely drained of confidence, coming off a 73-run drubbing at the hands of Hobart Hurricanes. But on Tuesday, the team put in a powerful all-round display that was in complete contrast to most of their mediocre showings this season - the bowlers held their lines, the fielding was tight, and the openers both fired.
The Renegades, choosing to bat, were immediately on the backfoot as their captain Aaron Finch, who has been on a hot streak this season, was bowled by Sandhu for a duck. Sandhu then struck in the third over, dismissing Alex Doolan in the third over. Daniel Harris stabilised the innings by combining with Ben Rohrer for a third-wicket association that yielded 50 runs.
As the overs wore on, the Renegades tried to push for a competitive total, but a number of poor shots led to the innings imploding. From 61 for 2, they slid to 104 all out, the innings coming to an end with two run-outs. Ajantha Mendis used his variations well, to snaffle two batsmen on his way to conceding only 15 in his four overs.
The Thunder needed only 11.3 overs to overhaul that paltry total. Khawaja began his innings ominously with an assured drive through covers for four, and received ample support at the other end from Dilshan who played with just as much aggression. The pair added 89 in 9.3 overs and even though Dilshan fell for a 29-ball 46, the openers had already laid the platform for a win to remember.
Hussey, one of the few positives for the Thunder this season with three half-centuries, scored only nine on Tuesday, but the winning runs came off his bat, bringing an end to 753 days of despair for the Thunder.
Anuj Vignesh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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