Adelaide Strikers 174 for 4 (Wells 68*, Carey 45, Lamichhane 1-15) beat Melbourne Stars 169 for 6 (Maxwell 43, Siddle 3-24) by five runs
Peter Siddle experienced ecstasy and agony within the space of three deliveries. He'd just dismissed the rampaging Glenn Maxwell for a 25-ball 43. This was Adelaide Strikers' game to lose now, but in the same over, he saw Nathan Coulter-Nile back away and put him into the stands to bring the game in the balance again, with Melbourne Stars needing 24 off 12 balls.
Siddle would once again be called in to defend 12 off the final over with with Ben Dunk and Coulter-Nile still at the crease. He responded by nailing three yorkers - five full deliveries in all - as Strikers squeezed home by five runs to remain unbeaten after three games. Siddle's international career may or may not be over, his BBL career certainly isn't, for there's still enough fuel burning inside. Stars, meanwhile, registered their first loss in three matches.
Dale Steyn's BBL initiation
Dale Steyn's first four balls in his BBL career had people wondering briefly if they'd be able to see magic from him. Jake Weatherald thumped the first ball to mid-off, and then hit him for a sequence of 6,6,4,4. The method was simple: stand inside the crease, get under the length and go over the top. The third of those boundaries was off a slower ball. Weatherald 1-0 Steyn.
In his previous T20 outing, on December 1 at the Mzansi Super League, he'd conceded 10 runs in four overs combined. Now, Steyn was properly under pressure now. Having seen the full deliveries disappear, he shortened his length and cramped Weatherald for room, and had his man when the batsman toe-ended another lofted hit off a thickish inside edge to Glenn Maxwell at mid-on. Weatherald 1-1 Steyn.
Legspinning twins pull it back
Maxwell immediately took Steyn off and introduced Adam Zampa, who struck off his second delivery with some drift and fizz off the pitch. Having watched Weatherald thump boundaries, Phil Salt tried to leave his mark too, and he may have erred in playing for turn as this one gathered pace after pitching to beat his slog and castle him. It could've been a double-strike had Marcus Stoinis not put down Matthew Short first ball at extra cover when he stepped out to drill a half-volley.
However, Short's stay was short-lived - no pun intended - as he was foxed two overs later by Nepal leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane. Having seen Alex Carey caress the ball inside-out for six only two balls earlier, Short tried to do the same. Except, he didn't pick the googly and didn't have the length to get underneath it. Bowled. Strikers 53 for 3 after the Powerplay.
Carey lends control, Wells rides luck
Carey had driven sublimely through covers and mid-off so far in the season. His drives had produced 44 runs (four fours and three sixes) off just 19 balls. And he showed those imperious driving skills by hitting Zampa and Maxwell with the spin to clear long-off and the extra cover boundary. It was evident why three IPL teams were in a frenetic bidding war for Carey.
At the other end, Jonathan Wells struggled on the face of some tight spin bowling in the second half. And every time he looked for a release shot, he found fielders who reprieved him. First, Hilton Cartwright put down a simple chance at deep midwicket on 20. Then Zampa himself put one down on 25, running backwards from point. It didn't help that Steyn kept the pressure on with a tight second over with four dots, including a 148.3kph thunderbolt that swung away late to beat the outside edge.
Fortunately, Wells fought through and after pottering to 17 off his first 20 deliveries, he made 51 off his last 26 deliveries; his 13-ball stand of 32 with Rashid Khan, including the dismantling of Nathan Coulter-Nile for three successive fours in the final over. Suddenly, a 155-160 total had been lifted to 174 for 4.
Stars' contrasting powerplay approach
Where Strikers had a turbocharge in the powerplay, Stars seemed intent on taking the chase deep after losing two early wickets. They played out 29 dot balls in the first 10 overs; in comparison the Strikers' innings had just 40 dots. This slow-steady-boom approach also brought with it the risk of having to negotiate Rashid Khan, who was held back until the ninth over - in the second half.
Marcus Stoinis struggled for timing. He tried to back away and flick, back away and scoop, back away and slash - just about anything. But it just didn't come off, barring the one hit into the top tier for six in the 10th over. But two balls later, he was out to an excellent reflex catch off his own bowling by medium pacer Cameron Valente. Enter Maxwell.
Siddle pips Maxwell
Wells will tell you why cricket is a great leveller. His unbeaten 46-ball 68 fired Strikers to a score far above what they looked like getting at one stage. But later in the evening, his reprieve off Maxwell with the Strikers seemingly in control could have been a massive moment on another night.
On 5 off 9 with Stars needing 79 off 39, Maxwell swung a length ball over wide long-on, only to see Wells tip it over for six. From there on, he brought the chase within sniffing distance with some of the most audacious hitting to make 43 off just 25 balls. When he fell, looking to reverse hook a short ball, from Peter Siddle, Stars still needed 34 off 14 balls.
Coulter-Nile, who leaked 17 off the final over, then came in and clobbered a clutch of sixes to bring the chase within sniffing distance, only to run into Siddle, who nailed yorkers at will to finish with 3 for 24 as Strikers stole victory under Stars' noses.