Adelaide Strikers 6 for 159 (Salt 31, Head 31, Milne 1-6) beat Sydney Thunder 7 for 153 (Khawaja 36, Neser 2-17, Siddle 2-22) by six runs
Adelaide Strikers vaulted into contention
for a finals spot and in turn put Sydney Thunder under pressure as they came back from what appeared an underwhelming batting display on a blisteringly hot day.
produced the equal second most economical display in BBL history with 1 for 6 from his four overs and Brendan Doggett
was superb with his yorkers during a Strikers' batting display where the top five all reached 22 but no one went past 31 (a score made three times) although two batsmen had the misfortune of being run out backing up via deflections.
The Thunder were solidly placed in the chase at 1 for 73 in the 10th over but an attempt to secure the Bash Boost point led to a collapse as they lost 6 for 41 in seven overs. Ben Cutting and Nathan McAndrew, who earlier took a crunching blow on the hand when bowling, ensured the Thunder had a glimmer until the final few deliveries but it proved out of reach.
The lure of the extra point
struck a vital blow when he had Alex Hales, the tournament's leading run-scorer, caught behind in the third over before he could do significant damage but Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson had things very much under control. However, at the start of the 10th over the Thunder needed 12 to secure the extra Bash Boost point and their attempt to get there backfired. Ferguson lofted Michael Neser
to mid-off and next ball Khawaja scooped him to short fine leg. All of a sudden the chase looked very different with two new batsmen having not faced a ball, although it was still very much in the Thunder's range with them having earlier made the significant call to sub out Tanveer Sangha for Alex Ross as their X-factor.
Filling Rashid Khan's void
The Strikes are having to complete this tournament without their talisman Khan who is in the UAE playing for Afghanistan. There is no like-for-like, probably in world cricket, so they need to make the most of what they have. It has meant a chance for Liam O'Connor but it was his impact in the field that was perhaps most critical. Initially he managed to get a hand on Ollie Davies' firm drive, then he scampered after the ball and was aware enough to aim for the non-striker's end where he pulled off a direct hit to remove Sam Billings. Next over Travis Head had Davies caught behind and the Thunder collapse continued when O'Connor claimed Chris Green.
With 46 needed off the last four overs the Strikers weren't secure with Cutting at the crease. There was momentary confusion when the umpire signaled the Power Surge at the start of the 17th over only for the Thunder not to want it with the call rescinded. Siddle then produced a magnificent over which started with three dots then removed Ross courtesy of a brilliant catch at backward point by Jake Weatherald
then another dot and a single: 45 off 18 balls looked very different when the Surge was
called. McAndrew took 15 off Wes Agar
only for Siddle to show his class again as the penultimate over cost seven. Cutting swung the first ball of the last for six to keep the pressure on Agar but he responded well with just two runs off the next three deliveries.
The result was tough on Milne and Doggett who had combined figures of 8-0-27-3. Milne produced 20 dot balls in his spell which left him behind only Mitchell Johnson's 3 for 3 in the BBL economy list
. His wicket of Phil Salt was just the fifth of the tournament but his pace and accuracy showed the value he brings in other ways. Doggett, meanwhile, had his yorkers on point during his last two overs and two in succession had him on a hat-trick after trapping Ryan Gibson and Matt Renshaw lbw. It meant that McAndrew and Cutting bore the brunt of the scoring with their eight overs costing 93 runs.
Weatherald's double run out
In the end the Strikers had just enough but it was an unconvincing batting display although the pitch offered more for the quicks than the previous surface. Weatherald was involved in an action-packed dismissal when Green deflected the ball into the stumps with replays showing his bat was fractionally in the air after a somewhat lazy attempt to get back. However, while the ball remained live from the deflection Salt had been racing up for a run with Weatherald late to respond. The Thunder then went for the second run out attempt with Billings hurling himself full length at the stumps. If the deflection had proved not out then Weatherald was also short at the other end. All that left them 2 for 82 after 10 overs. When the Surge brought just seven runs against Milne and Doggett the Strikers weren't going anywhere, but in the final wash-up the 18th over which cost 20, as Gibson clubbed two sixes, proved crucial.