Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars 8/166 (20 Overs) @ Spotless Stadium
Thunder A Rabble Playing An Injured Russell
I couldn't believe it when Ben Rohrer admitted live on air that the Thunder had bungled their line-up due to an administrative error. Rohrer was candid, saying that James Vince would have been available to play had he been named in the Thunder's original 13-man squad yesterday. Andre Russell was clearly injured and struggling in Perth, however Rohrer made it sound like he was forced to play at the last minute tonight due to a bungle from the Thunder administration. It was embarrassing to watch Russell hobble around the field and finally succumb to a serious lower leg injury little more than 9 overs into the game. The injury was clearly prevalent in the past couple of games and the fact that Russell could only manage one over, effectively leaves the Thunder one player short in a must win game. I know there would be a lot of great people that work at the Thunder, however you wonder why their captain felt the need to express his dissatisfaction live on air? Last season's title victory must seem like a lifetime ago; this seems like a return to the bad old days.
Stars Have Right Formula With The Bat
I have been saying right throughout BBL6 I am a massive fan of batting your best players up front in T20 cricket, and the Stars have exactly that in Luke Wright, Glenn Maxwell and Kevin Pietersen. I think they have the right formula there and it's one of the reasons they have been a consistently winning outfit over the past five years. They keep things pretty simple in terms of giving their best players the responsibility up front. Pietersen was pure class, summing up the conditions by knocking the ball around early before targeting some of the Thunder's weaker bowlers. Pietersen quickly realised 200 wasn't realistic, and lowered his ceiling slightly. Both Maxwell and Wright would be disappointed they didn't fully capitalise on explosive starts after the Stars surged to 0/40 from 4 overs on a slow turner at Spotless Stadium . Maxwell struck at 150 and Wright at over 200, however both fell in familiar fashion. Maxwell tried to get a bit too funky with a low full toss and paid the penalty by scooping it straight to deep square leg. Wright chipped a ball straight ball back to Fawad Ahmed as his struggle against spin continued. While the Stars were strong again the first 10 overs, their lower order batting left a lot to be desired against some admittedly great death bowling from the Thunder.
Watson Should Bowl First Over
The Thunder need all the quality and experience possible in both batting and bowling Power Plays at the moment. They have generally been losing games up front, and again they were behind the eight ball here almost from the get go. Why not give their most experienced and crafty bowler Shane Watson the first over? It took the Thunder until the the 5th over to introduce Shane Watson when he dismissed the extremely dangerous Glenn Maxwell. However, not before Maxwell had blazed 34 from 22 balls and the Stars pummelled 40 without loss from their opening four overs. In Perth, the Thunder waited until the 10th over to introduce Watson, where he immediately deceived Michael Klinger with a slower ball. With all of Watson's injuries over the years he actually learnt to become a more skilfull and craft bowlers, While he dropped over 15 Km's in pace he made up for it with ability to swing the ball, reveres the ball and use good variations. Watson has by far the most effective seam up bowler for the Thunder here claiming 3 for 23 from his 4 overs. His his intelligent use of wide yorkers in his final over limited the Star to just 1 run and completely for the better of Adam Zampa.
Crafty Ahmed Gives Pause For Thought
Fawad Ahmed seems like being the nearly man of Australian cricket. Several time over the past four years Ahmed seems to have been the one talked about in national circles, only for the Australian selectors to go in a different direction. Ahmed did play three ODI's back in 2013, however that was meant to be the start and not the end for a guy who has been highly touted by all as perhaps the best leg spinner in Australia since Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill. Ahmed is a proven performer at First Class level with 161 wickets at an average of 31 and a strike rate of 52. He has proved his adaptability in T20 cricket while being a really consistent performer for the Thunder throughout. Once again, Ahmed was at his crafty best here, picking up the two key wickets of Luke Wright and David Hussey in taking 2/30 from 4 overs. With a powder keg tour of India just around the corner, I would be thinking long and hard about taking Ahmed and playing him as one of two spinners. Ahmed also has a good wrongun which Kevin Pietersen struggled to read. It will be interesting to see how both Nathan Lyon and Steven O'Keefe fair over the next 3 days at the SCG, as poor performances could yet open the door for Ahmed.
Lurker Looking at Monster Treble To Seal His Best Night Yet
The Lurker said in the Preview he fancied Kevin Pietersen to get 50+. Tick. He fancied Glenn Maxwell to get 25+. Tick. He also liked the Melbourne Stars to knock over the Thunder in a closer game then many people expected. Can the Lurker seal a famous treble or will the Thunder steal his glory. The game looks evenly poised with the Thunder hitting back hard with the ball and restricting the Stars to 8/166 after they got off to a flying start.