Sydney Thunder 5 for 181 (Sangha 63 not out, Sams 34, Zampa 2-23) beat Melbourne Stars 6 for 74 (Larkin 28, Sams 3/5) by 15 runs (D/L method)
A first innings half-century from 19-year old Jason Sangha and an all-round performance from Daniel Sams propelled Sydney Thunder to victory over Melbourne Stars in Canberra. In a rain-affected fixture that eventually saw the Stars requiring 90 from eight overs for a win, none of the power hitters from the Melbourne franchise managed to get going, after skillful bowling from Gurinder Sandhu, Chris Green and Sams restricted Stars to just 74.
Watson and Buttler set the platform, Zampa turns the screws
After being sent in by the visitors, Thunder openers were off to a fast start, with Shane Watson unleashing a characteristic barrage of brutal, balanced cuts and drives, while his partner, Jos Buttler, cut and pulled with equal ferocity. Neither Michael Beer nor Jackson Coleman were any match for them, as they propelled the to 38 from the opening four overs, before Buttler eventually fell to Adam Zampa at the close of Powerplay.
Zampa's first over halted Thunder's momentum immediately. He ended his first over with 1 for 1 after picking up the dangerous Buttler, floating a slow wrong'un that beat Buttler all ends up. Buttler first advanced, then stopped, and eventually found himself too far away from the ball, reaching for it as spun past his bat, cannoning into the stumps.
Stars consolidate before Sangha and Sams pull away
After Zampa applied the brake, captain Glenn Maxwell introduced Nepal international Sandeep Lamichhane into the attack. The 19-year old legpsinner started brilliantly, accounting for Watson in his second delivery. Lamichhane tossed one up fractionally outside off, and Watson could only launch it over long on, where it was taken by a leaping Nick Larkin.
In the final ball of the over, he zipped another one in, enticing Callum Ferguson to work across the spin to the legside. It gripped, grabbed the leading edge, and popped back to Lamichhane, who took the simplest of catches to finish his opening BBL over with two wickets, conceding only three runs.
It brought England Test captain Joe Root to the crease. While his team-mates had struggled to read Lamichhane, Root swept confidently, regularly countering his variations, before capitalising on anything short. He was eventually undone by Zampa after attempting a pre-meditated slog sweep, skying it straight up and into the safe hands of wicketkeeper, Ben Dunk, for 18.
He shared a steady partnership of 40 from 29 balls with Sangha, who stood out with the bat. The BBL debutant impressed with his range of scoring, frequently extracting maximum value when the spinners dropped short, heaving the ball over the ropes with striking bat speed.
He accelerated when joined by Sams, who also made an immediate impact, muscling two sixes over midwicket early on to set up his innings before finishing with 34 from 21 balls. Sangha hit four sixes and four boundaries himself, eventually making 65 from 36 balls, and in turn becoming the youngest player in BBL history to make a half-century. Thunder ended their innings with an imposing 181 for 5.
Weather wreaks havoc, Stars fall short
A significant rain delay had a major effect on the target, and the inexperienced bowling duo of Sam Rainbird and Nathan McAndrew won the opening exchange. Conceding only 14 from the opening two overs, it left Stars with 76 to get from 36 balls, with Travis Dean and Maxwell at the crease. Dean fell to Sams straight away, bringing Marcus Stoinis to the crease. Maxwell couldn't make his mark on Sams, eventually chipping him to deep midwicket at the end of Sams' excellent first over. Dwayne Bravo was next, with 70 required off 30 balls.
In the next over, Stoinis holed out at long off, Sangha taking a fine catch skirting the rope. Green's tight bowling in that over pushed the asking rate further.
While Bravo was able to pull Sandhu for six early, a succession of slower bouncers did the trick, with Bravo caught on the square leg fence late in the over.
From there, neither Evan Gulbis nor Nick Larkin could make an impression on the target, with the asking rate ballooning out to 33 from the final over. Despite a late flurry from Larkin, Thunder prevailed comfortably and deservedly, ultimately managing the wet conditions better than their opponents.