Hobart Hurricanes 2 for 185 (Short 96*, O'Connell 1-17) beat Melbourne Stars 126 (Gotch 35, Meredith 4-21) by 59 runs
D'Arcy Short was robbed of a second BBL century but no one can steal top spot from the Hobart Hurricanes, as they opened up a four-point at the top of the BBL table after thumping Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
Short made a masterful, unbeaten 96 from just 57 balls, although he had those crucial four runs stolen from him after a boundary in the 18th over was incorrectly called leg byes. It was the fourth time in seven matches this season he was named Player of the Match. Short is the only man in BBL history to have four scores of 90 or more. He struck four sixes, and became the second fastest to 50 BBL sixes behind Chris Gayle.
Short and Matthew Wade set up the game with a 95-run opening stand in just 11.3 overs after the Hurricanes were sent in to bat. The pair now have the two highest opening partnerships of the season and became the first pair in BBL history to share seven partnerships of 50 or more.
Short powered on to help the Hurricanes post an imposing total of 2 for 185. It was too much for the inexperienced Stars. They lost four wickets in the first eight overs to a mixture of raw pace and wily spin. Such was the Hurricanes' dominance, they posted a short leg in place when Nic Maddinson came to the crease. Riley Meredith and Jofra Archer peppered the Stars with 145kph short balls. Meredith took 4 for 21 and Archer 2 for 23. The guile of Johan Botha complemented the pace barrage with 2 for 21 as the Stars folded for 126.
Short and Wade are an unusual opening combination. Most successful openers in T20s explode in the Powerplay before naturally slowing once the field goes out. Short and Wade did the opposite, bucking conventional wisdom that spin is their kryptonite. They really struggled in the Powerplay.
Short was dropped by the keeper Seb Gotch on 3. It was a tough chance off the top edge but Gotch's upright stance when the edge was found did not give him the best power base to jump vertically. Wade and Short then scored only 40 runs in the Powerplay, finding the boundary only three times. But in the five overs thereafter they plundered 52. They bullied the inexperienced spin of Liam Bowe and Tom O'Connell as well as the part-time offering of Ben Dunk. Wade holed out when the partnership reached 95, having been dropped the ball before.
Short had only the minor share of the strike, facing only 31 balls in his 69-ball stand with Wade. He barely got the majority share in the last 8.3 overs. Jake Doran was oddly sent in at No.3 and chewed up 8 balls for 7 runs. Short's six-hitting rhythm was broken as a result. He launched his fourth six in the 15thover but didn't hit another. Ben McDermott faced 19 of the last 31 balls of the innings as Short could barely get back the strike. McDermott hit two massive sixes of his own but Short was robbed of a well-deserved century.
On 86, with 14 balls left in the innings, Short played a draw shot through his legs from a Dwayne Bravo yorker, that came off the bat onto heel and ran fine for four. But umpire Michael Graham-Smith incorrectly called it leg byes. It wasn't the only umpiring blunder of the innings, after John Ward had earlier called a front foot no-ball on Jackson Bird when he had part of his heel behind the line. Instead of moving to 90, Short remained on 86. He could only muster four twos and two singles from there to be stranded on 96.
The full complement
The balance of the Hurricanes attack is what makes them such a powerful force. The left-arm swing and slower balls of James Faulkner, the steep bounce of Archer, the raw right-arm speed of Meredith, the offspin of Johan Botha, the left-arm orthodox of Clive Rose and the left-arm wristspin of Short means captain Wade is spoilt for choice.
He used five of his six bowlers in the first eight overs to knock over the Stars' top four. Evan Gulbis was bowled by a flatter, quicker ball from Botha while Nick Larkin was bounced out, miscuing a pull to short fine leg off Meredith. Short exacted revenge on Ben Dunk, forcing a chop-on first ball of the seventh over after Dunk had deceived Short in the first ball of the corresponding fixture last year.
Maddinson got bombarded with bouncers from Archer, with a short leg in place, before he was trapped lbw playing for spin that wasn't there from Botha. Gotch and Dwayne Bravo then provided brief cameos, but Meredith returned and started hitting speeds of 145kph. It was too much for Bravo, Liam Plunkett and Jackson Bird as he finished with 4 for 21 from four overs. The Stars just couldn't handle the heat with Liam Bowe hitting his own stumps standing deep in his crease to a 145kph rocket from Archer to end the match.