Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Hobart Hurricanes 4 for 181 (McDermott 96, Malan 42, Sangha 2-45) beat Sydney Thunder 5 for 177 (Billings 50, Hales 29, Boland 4-41) by six wickets
Ben McDermott struck a scintillating 96 as Hobart Hurricanes trounced Sydney Thunders by six wickets at Manuka Oval. On their way, the Hurricanes also pocketed the Bash Boost point to leapfrog from seventh to fourth on the BBL points table.
Chasing 178, the Hurricanes didn't have a great start but a third-wicket partnership of 109 in 61 balls between McDermott and Dawid Malan helped reduce the equation to 56 needed from 44 balls. Malan fell to Tanveer Sangha for a 28-ball 42 but McDermott kept attacking. In all, he smashed eight fours and five sixes in 56 balls. By the time he got out, the Hurricanes needed only 13 from 21 balls, which they scored with two overs to spare.
Earlier, Scott Boland picked up 4 for 41 - three of those in one over - but Sam Billings' 50 off 34 balls helped the Thunder post a challenging total. Billings, who scored 40 out of his 50 runs on the leg side, was also helped by the Hurricanes fielders, who put him down on 22 and 38. In the end, however, it didn't matter.
Boland's three-wicket over dents Thunder
After being put in on a used pitch, the Thunder were off to a brisk start as Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales added 64 in 7.1 overs for the first wicket. While Riley Meredith found some extra bounce to trouble Hales, the runs came easily from the other end. Boland was taken for 18 in the second over of the game with Hales smashing him for a six and a four. Khawaja got into the act with a scooped four off Nathan Ellis as the Thunder ended the powerplay with 40 for no loss.
As soon as the field restrictions were lifted, the Hurricanes introduced wristspin from both ends, in the form Sandeep Lamichhane and D'Arcy Short. The move seemed to work until Khawaja started using his feet and found a couple of boundaries. That forced Peter Handscomb to go back to Boland in the eighth over, the one where the momentum shifted.
Hales tried to attack Boland once again only to top-edge a pull to deep midwicket. A ball later, Oliver Davies edged a slower bouncer behind the stumps. Callum Ferguson took a single on the next ball before Boland bowled Khawaja via an inside edge. From 64 for no loss, the Thunder slipped to 66 for 3 in the space of five balls.
Billings, sloppy fielding hurt Hurricanes
Ferguson and Billings consolidated for a while and took the Thunder to 101 for 3 at the end of 13 overs. Lamichhane gave away only 28 runs in his four overs despite conceding ten in the final, and Short was en route to similar figures when Billings decided to go after him. Billings was on 16 off as many balls before Short started his fourth over, the 14th of the innings. After a brace on the second ball, Billings slog-swept the next for four. The Hurricanes had a chance to end Billings' innings on the next ball as the batsman mistimed a long hop to long-off but Mitchell Owen dropped the catch. To rub salt into the wound, Billings dispatched the next ball over deep midwicket for six. Billings got another life two overs later when Will Jacks, coming in from long-on, spilled a low chance.
Ferguson departed for 23 off 24 balls but with 137 for 4 at the end of 17 overs, the Thunder were well set to take advantage of the Power Surge. Billings brought up his fifty - off 33 balls - with a four off Boland but fell on the next ball to give Boland his fourth wicket. Ben Cutting (15* off 10) and Daniel Sams (16* off 6), though, smashed three fours and six between them to ensure the Thunder finished strongly.
McDermott, Malan help Hurricanes earn Bash Boost point
The Hurricanes needed to start well. Instead, they lost a wicket on the first ball as Adam Milne rattled Will Jacks' stumps with a late inswinger. Short started with a straight-driven four but holed out to mid-on off Nathan McAndrew for 6 to leave the Hurricanes 14 for 2 in the third over. Milne could have had Malan too but Sangha put down a low chance at short fine leg on the last ball of the powerplay. Malan was on 3 at that time.
Usually a slow starter, Malan took the offensive route right from the start, slog-sweeping Sangha for a six before cracking a pull against McAndrew to move to 20 off 10 balls. But the real impetus was provided by McDermott, who after labouring to run-a-ball 23, smashed McAndrew for a 97-metre six. In the next over, he reverse-swept Chris Green for four. With six needed from the tenth over for a Bash Boost point, Ferguson brought back Sams but even he couldn't defend that.
McDermott masterclass stuns Thunder
With 94 required from 60 balls, the Thunder were still very much in the game. But the Hurricanes' decision to take the Power Surge straightaway changed the dynamics completely. The Thunder deployed their two best bowlers - Milne and Sams - but with Malan and McDermott well set, they still ended up leaking 31 in those two overs. McDermott brought up his half-century off 37 balls with a four off Milne. His brutal hitting, that included two towering sixes and a four off Sams, meant the Hurricanes needed 63 off 48 balls at the end of the Surge.
Hurricanes lost Malan in the 13th over but there was no stopping McDermott. Another big six off Sangha took him to 94. He went for the slog sweep next ball but ended up mistiming it. Milne though put it down at deep square leg. On the next ball, McDermott tried to go over covers only to top-edge it. Davies didn't make a mistake at backward point. But by then, the result was a foregone conclusion.