Hobart Hurricanes 2 for 144 (Short 60, Paine 41) beat Adelaide Strikers 143 (Hodge 55, Christian 5-14) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
As the BBL group stage approaches its halfway point, both Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers arrived at Bellerive Oval with a win and two defeats under their belts; it shaped as a vital clash for both.
And, thanks to a supreme bowling performance - led by an unlikely spearhead, Daniel Christian - it was Hobart Hurricanes who prevailed. Chasing an underpar 144, D'Arcy Short and Tim Paine put on 105, the highest opening stand of the competition so far, and the Hurricanes got home with eight wickets and 14 balls to spare.
Earlier, Christian had taken 5 for 14 - which included three wickets in the final over of the innings - and recorded the second-best figures in the BBL's history, eclipsing the 5 for 16 taken by Sean Abbott two nights ago.
In that game, the Strikers did brilliantly to defend a low score against the Sixers having been invited to bat first, but they were unable to provide a repeat dose; as a result, their finals hopes hang by a thread. The two teams meet again at Adelaide Oval on Friday - another vital clash but, this time, the Hurricanes' position looks rather stronger.
Hurricanes believe in Christian
With Shaun Tait injured and Hamish Kingston dropped, Hurricanes' bowling attack had a rather different look. There were three seam options - the excellent Stuart Broad, Simon Milenko, making his first appearance of the season, and Christian, who was yet to bowl in the competition. Regular spinners Clive Rose and Cameron Boyce were joined by debutant Beau Webster. Tim Paine opted to bowl first, but on a flat pitch and with one square boundary of around 54m, the Hurricanes were up against it.
Broad set the tone brilliantly - and returned for three more fine overs, all in separate spells - but Christian immediately tied Strikers down. His two Powerplay overs cost three, then two, with the second picking up the wicket of Jono Dean. He returned in the 13th to dismiss Travis Head - courtesy a fine catch from Broad at long-on - then was entrusted with the final over. Two had fallen in the penultimate over, bowled by Broad, and Christian dismissed key man Brad Hodge, then Ben Laughlin next ball, and Liam O'Connor to end the innings. The story of Christian's success - which included 16 dots in 24 balls - were the variations in pace and length, trying slow bouncers to swift yorkers and much in between.
Of Hurricanes' bowlers only Milenko disappointed, conceding 50, but he picked up the vital wickets of openers Ben Dunk - whose fine form continued with a quick 31 - and Jake Weatherald.
Hodge's lone hand
The Strikers' bowlers could not bail their batsmen out this time. The swift loss of the top three threw away a fine start and it was left to Travis Head and Brad Hodge to rebuild. Head, who had been dropped on five, was out immediately after a big straight six, but Hodge batted through until the final over, smiting cleanly over the leg side. With Keiron Pollard struggling again and a long tail, five wickets fell in the final two overs, and 143 never looked enough.
Strikers' Paine is not Short
D'Arcy Short looks quite a find for Hurricanes. He enjoyed a dream debut in the win over Sixers, before a couple of quiet games. He was in outrageous form here, standing tall, swinging hard and watching the ball fly, putting on 105 with the team captain Paine. Short took Michael Neser's first over (the 11th) for three huge sixes - the third of which went out of the ground to bring up the 100 - and 15 from Chris Jordan's third.
Paine was happy to play the role of amused onlooker, plodding along in Short's slipstream and targeting the spin of Head and O'Connor. Eventually Billy Stanlake - who was outstanding again (bowling 16 dots), and the only bowler to trouble Short - had him caught behind by Dunk, the man he replaced at Hurricanes, and Paine was bowled by Head, but not before he passed Chris Lynn as the season's leading scorer. Fortunately for them, George Bailey and Kumar Sangakkara picked up the baton to see Hurricanes over the line - with the Sri Lankan finding some form in the process.