Adelaide Strikers 5 for 150 (Wells 36, Zampa 2-20) beat Melbourne Stars 7 for 149 (Maddinson 48*, Agar 2-19) by five wickets
Adelaide Strikers sent Rashid Khan off in style with a hard-fought five-wicket win over Melbourne Stars to vault up to third on the BBL table and leave the Stars in strife.
Wes Agar starred with 2 for 19, including a maiden, while Khan took 2 for 29, including the prize scalp of Glenn Maxwell, to restrict the Stars to just 7 for 149 after they won the toss. Marcus Stoinis played a lone hand at the top smashing 47 but he failed to kick on while Nic Maddinson made an excellent 48 not out to rescue the Stars after they had slumped to 5 for 92.
The Strikers stumbled in the chase losing Phil Salt and Alex Carey in a failed attempt to claim the Bash Boost point. Adam Zampa's sublime spell of 2 for 20 put the Strikers in a hole but Jono Wells and Ryan Gibson dug them out. Wells took his time before hammering Haris Rauf to finish with 36 from 27 while Gibson guided the side home with 22 not out from 13 balls. Fittingly, Khan was out there for the winning runs in his 50th game for the Strikers, and last for the season as he heads off to international duty.
Stoinis needs some spice
Andre Fletcher was a late addition to the Stars squad for the BBL as a replacement for Jonny Bairstow. It was hoped he would provide a nice foil for Stoinis at the top of the order but his struggles have really hurt the Stars and again he failed to fire. He faced a maiden in the first over and although he struck two sixes in the third he faced nine dots in 12 balls before holing out to mid-on. The ball did nip and swing early and the Stars were wary of losing wickets. Nick Larkin faced another maiden in the powerplay from Agar while Stoinis was 8 off 11 at one stage.
Stoinis made up for it with some sublime hitting but it was nullified by Khan's double-strike. He bamboozled Larkin with a stunning googly, before Maxwell fell for his second consecutive golden duck slicing a full wide wrong 'un to backward point. Stoinis clubbed the hat-trick ball through midwicket for four with contempt. He was fortunate to survive a dropped catch in the deep, but Agar got him four balls later with some extra bounce catching a leading edge. Hilton Cartwright also failed to leave the Stars 5 for 92 with just 36 balls left in the innings.
The Stars left the Power Surge until the 17th over and Agar continued his outstanding form, delivering six straight yorkers to concede just four runs and two leg byes. Dan Worrall then backed it up taking two wickets to leave the Stars in a huge hole. But Maddinson kept his head to give the Stars a score to defend. He used the pace of Worrall to flick him over fine leg and uppercut over third man in between the two Power Surge wickets. He then smashed Agar over deep midwicket in the 19th over, but Agar still finished with the phenomenal figures of 2 for 19 from four overs. Maddinson finished the innings with back-to-back sixes off Worrall to reach 48 not out from 34 balls and lift the Stars to a competitive total.
Bash Boost blunder
The Strikers needed just 68 for the Bash Boost point and had it under control through eight overs. Salt lost his opening partner early but struck four boundaries to reach 31 from 21 balls and leave the Strikers needing just 10 from two overs with Salt and Carey at the crease. But they made a mess of the short-term goal and did significant long-term damage to their chase.
Maxwell backed himself and Zampa with 9th and 10th overs and came up trumps. Salt skied Maxwell to long-off with the first ball of the over, with Maxwell's angle from around the wicket causing the miscue. Then Carey and Wells scored just seven singles from the next 10 deliveries to put the Bash Boost point in jeopardy before Carey committed the ultimate sin. Needing three for the point, he tried to loft a reverse sweep off Zampa and was caught at short third man with Maddinson moving well to take an excellent catch. It left the Strikers without the point and needing 85 to win from 60 balls as their captain trudged off.
Gibson goes to the Wells
Wells remained composed despite Jake Weatherald also falling to the reverse sweep to Zampa. The legspinner delivered an outstanding Power Surge over as a part of a brilliant spell. Wells found an ally in Gibson and the pair of calm heads prevailed. They failed to take a boundary off Zampa's last over but didn't panic despite needing 30 off 18 balls.
Wells waited for the pace of Rauf and used it to perfection. He carved him through point, clipped him through midwicket, and lofted him over the midwicket rope to reduce the equation to 16 off 14. Wells did hole out trying to go again over point but the damage was done. Gibson picked up the slack, slicing Rauf to third man to take 18 from the over and leave just 12 required from 12 balls.
They only needed six. Gibson again found the rope off Liam Hatcher at midwicket. He had some fortune last ball when the substitute Tom O'Connell dropped him running back with the flight for the winning runs.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne