56th Match (N), Melbourne, January 25, 2023, Big Bash League
(18.5/20 ov, T:120) 120/7

Thunder won by 3 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
2/19 & 2 catches
Cricinfo's MVP
71.54 ptsImpact List

Thunder win low-scoring thriller, will face Heat in Eliminator

Sydney Thunder secured a playoff berth with the win, while Melbourne Stars finished bottom

Joel Davies caught on to one to dismiss Marcus Stoinis, Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder, BBL, Melbourne Cricket Ground, January 25, 2023

Sydney Thunder just about made it through to the BBL finals  •  Getty Images

Sydney Thunder 120 for 7 (Sams 28, Zampa 3-26) beat Melbourne Stars 119 for 7 (Cartwright 36, Qadir 3-24) by 3 wickets
Sydney Thunder survived a wobbly chase to secure a BBL finals berth after a tense three-wicket victory over Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
The finals positioning came down to the last match of this riveting regular season with Thunder needing a win to leapfrog Hobart Hurricanes, who had pushed into the top five after a remarkable two-run victory over Brisbane Heat earlier in the day.
Eerily similar to that game in Launceston, it went down to the wire after a nervy Thunder almost botched their chase of 120.
But Thunder, who have been up and down all season, did enough in a see-saw of a contest to claim fourth place and will host an elimination final on Friday against fifth-placed Heat.
It ended another underachieving season for Stars, who finished bottom of the ladder with just three wins.

Thunder stumble over the line

Chasing a low target, Thunder had early wobbles with David Warner's run of low scores continuing after being undone by extra bounce from quick Luke Wood.
Warner lasted just three deliveries and has made just 63 runs from five innings since his long-awaited return to the BBL. He is likely to have one more chance to better those returns at elimination final.
Thunder were boosted by the return of batter Jason Sangha, who was out for five weeks due to a broken collarbone. But Sangha couldn't get going and was stumped off a sharp delivery from spinner Adam Zampa.
Thunder kept losing wickets and appeared to be headed for the same fate of Heat earlier in the day. But a hard-hitting 28 off 18 balls from Daniel Sams and composed batting from skipper Chris Green and Nathan McAndrew got Thunder over the line and into the finals.

Zampa gives it his all

Zampa has had a rough season after taking the Stars' captaincy reins from injured Glenn Maxwell. But he remains their talisman and did his very best to thwart Thunder's finals hopes. He enjoyed a spinning MCG surface and turned the match by outfoxing Alex Ross and Sams to leave the contest in the balance. It wasn't a flawless effort with Zampa dropping a sitter to reprieve Green on 1 in what proved a costly missed chance. The Stars did what they could to fight all the way to the finish and perhaps in that respect they made it a reasonable send off for coach David Hussey.

Qadir shines, Sandhu injured

Thunder vindicated Green's decision to bowl after a disciplined performance from the attack. They bowled well in partnerships from the get go to shackle last-placed Stars, who appeared to be going through the motions in what was a dead rubber for them.
Legspinner Usman Qadir, the son of legendary Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir, stole the show with a three-wicket haul. He bamboozled Stars' struggling batters with flighted deliveries and combined well with Green, who was typically miserly to finish with 2 for 19 off four overs. Qadir has proven a reliable part of Thunder's attack after being drafted into the squad for injured spinner Tanveer Sangha.
The team's hierarchy will be well pleased with the performance of the attack after seamer Gurinder Sandhu limped off the ground with a suspected calf injury having bowled two overs. He appears in major doubt for Friday's final.

Stoinis' struggles caps tough season

Marcus Stoinis' season might have been doomed from the start when he fell first ball in the opening game against Thunder shortly after contracting Covid-19. He made just 14 runs in his next three innings before finally rediscovering his belligerent best with a couple of powerful half-centuries. But a hamstring injury derailed his momentum and Stars' season was basically shot when he returned.
Stoinis was hoping to at least end things on a high and find some form before he heads to the UAE's ILT20. He targeted Qadir in the sixth over and clobbered a six down the ground but couldn't repeat the dose later in the over to hole out. It summed up a disappointing season for Stoinis, where nothing seemingly went right and he finished with just 190 runs at 23.75 from nine matches.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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Over 19 • ST 120/7

Thunder won by 3 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
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