Sydney Thunder 4 for 162 (Watson 55, Vince 44) beat Hobart Hurricanes 8 for 161 (Bailey 69*) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Hobart Hurricanes batsmen, save George Bailey, failed to help themselves at a raucous Bellerive Oval © Cricket Australia
Before this tournament, the Sydney Thunder general manager Nick Cummins indicated that the defending champions needed to attack BBL06 as though they were the bottom team.
Having started with four consecutive defeats, they had no choice but to follow this dictum. Two wins later, the Thunder will have a few other sides looking over their shoulders.
This was a comfortable victory over the Hobart Hurricanes at a raucous Bellerive Oval, made all the more significant for the identities of the principal contributors: Fawad Ahmed, Carlos Brathwaite, James Vince and Shane Watson.
Legspin is an inherently attacking art, devised to fool batsmen and harvest wickets for the price of a few boundaries. However, the truncated nature of T20 means economy can be as valuable as incisiveness, as Fawad amply showed on the same ground where he prospered for Victoria in the 2015 Sheffield Shield final.
Conceding just 19 from four overs, Fawad sapped much of any potential momentum from the Hurricanes’ innings, following up from the early wickets procured by Clint McKay and Pat Cummins in the first two overs of the innings. His accuracy also meant a rare expensive outing for Chris Green was not overly damaging, and kept George Bailey from spreading his wings too far in the most spinal innings from among Hobart’s batsmen.
Carlos Brathwaite contributed to Sydney Thunder’s win with two wickets on debut © Getty Images
Watson is the only man left from the powerful Khawaja-Kallis-Hussey-Watson quartet that drove the Thunder so far towards a maiden BBL title last summer. Early in this tournament he was absent through injury, much as the Thunder themselves were unable to offer the sort of presence expected.
But a superb return catch to account for Kevin Pietersen in the narrow home win over Melbourne Stars marked Watson’s first major contribution to the campaign, and here he followed up with an innings to not only secure victory but also add to the Thunder’s problematic net run-rate. In the space of 31 balls he struck five sixes, a haul not quite in Chris Lynn territory but still two more than the Hurricanes managed in their entire innings.
New dogs, old tricks
Having lost Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell to England and injury respectively, the Thunder needed swift returns for their investments in their replacements James Vince and Brathwaite; both came to the party in welcome ways.
Brathwaite’s fast medium lacks Russell’s potential for the explosive, but he made up for the pace differential with canny slower balls to deceive first Dan Christian and then Jon Wells. Vince then put together a smart introductory innings, helping to pile up 58 without loss from the opening Powerplay and effectively muting the Hurricanes and their decidedly partisan crowd. The Thunder are still in with a chance, and Brathwaite and Vince did plenty to keep them there.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo