Alex Hales is a powerful presence at the top of the order © Getty Images and Cricket Australia
Sydney Thunder 6 for 166 (Hales 55, Khawaja 35, Ross 32*) beat Hobart Hurricanes 6 for 162 (Bailey 43, McDermott 33) by four wickets
A powerful half-century from Alex Hales set the Sydney Thunder on their way to a victory which took them third in the table, but they needed the calm head of Alex Ross to carry them through a late wobble against the Hobart Hurricanes.
Hales and Usman Khawaja added 96 for the first wicket but a series of poor shots kept the Hurricanes in the game until Ross, who was an off-season signing from the Adelaide Strikers, got the job done with four balls to spare.
The Hurricanes batting tactics had again been curious as they left Ben McDermott and David Miller until late in the innings. McDermott and George Bailey, who gave the innings some life, added 64 in six overs while some handy late blows from Clive Rose pushed them over 160.
In the last couple of matches the Hurricanes have used Simon Milenko at No. 3 and it’s been a questionable tactic, particularly with how he played in this innings. He is known as a strong hitter, but plodded his way to 17 off 21 balls which did nothing except dig a hole for the innings after Caleb Jewell had provided some early impetus in the Hurricanes’ equal best powerplay of the season: 1 for 51. There was a 43-ball period from the end of the fifth over to early in the 13th – which included the whole stand between Milenko and Bailey – where the Hurricanes did not manage a boundary. When Chris Morris hit Milenko’s leg stump it was a good thing for the Hurricanes and one of those wickets where the opposition may ponder how wise it was to take it. McDermott, who is an Australia T20 player, did not come to the crease until the 12th over and then took time to get himself in. He struck impressively towards the end of the innings, but it is something the Hurricanes will have to look at.
It was Australia’s new selector who broke the shackles when he struck back-to-back sixes off Arjun Nair in the 13th over. He then took consecutive boundaries off Chris Tremain and deposited Morris over long-on with a brilliant shot played off his back knee. It was his most substantial innings of his final season – Bailey, who ended his Sheffield Shield career in December, will retired when the Hurricanes’ campaign is over to take up his role alongside Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer. The innings carried him over 4000 T20 runs and was a reminder of what he has been capable of. The TV replays suggested he didn’t hit the one he was given out to, instead striking the ground.
The Thunder’s chase was quickly out of the blocks against some poor powerplay bowling. Qais Ahmad was given an early over – the fourth – with Hales taking the majority of the 18 runs from it as he hit strongly down the ground. By the end of the six overs the Thunder were cruising on 0 for 66. Hales went to a 28-ball fifty and the back of the chase had been broken. He was given a life on 51 when McDermott couldn’t get a glove on a stumping chance, but it didn’t cost too many as Hales picked out long-off to give the Hurricanes their first opening, although when he fell the Thunder needed 67 off 59 balls and it should have been much simpler than it became.
A wobble, but a win
Khawaja picked out deep square, where Nathan Ellis lost the ball before clinging on, and when the in-form Callum Ferguson was lbw the pressure started to mount. Morris appeared to have struck the telling blows when he swung Ellis for a four and a six in the 17th over but lazily popped a catch down to long-on in the next over to expose the lower order. However, Ross was in control and did what Morris couldn’t by depositing Rose into the stands to bring the requirement into single figures. Daniel Sams played an awful swipe to leave four needed off the final over and when Nair was able to give Ross the strike back he hammered Ellis through point.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo