Melbourne Stars 8/166 (20 Overs) defeated By Sydney Thunder 4/168 (20 Overs)
Morgan The Hero As Thunder Break Through
A dramatic last ball 6 by the Thunder's Eoin Morgan stunned the Melbourne Stars as the home side broke through for their first win of BBL6 in a game they seemed rarely in. With 4 required to tie and 6 for a win from the final ball from Ben Hilfenhaus, Morgan got the length ball he was looking for, lofting it high and straight and into a delirious Thunder home crowd. With 16 runs required from the final over, Morgan and Pat Cummins saved the Thunder's season as they now cling on to hope they could win their final three games and sneak into the finals. Earlier, the Thunder had done well to limit the Stars to 8/166 with some fantastic death bowling restricting the Stars to just 20 runs in their final 5 overs. After a great start from Kurtis Patterson (28) the Thunder then lost three quick wickets to slump to 3/43 with all seeming lost once more. However Morgan and captain Ben Rohrer slowly rebuilt the innings, before Morgan's late flurry pulled a win out of the fire. The Thunder now need to keep winning as they travel to Hobart to take on the Hurricanes. It's a second straight loss for the Stars who now sit somewhat precariously at 1-2 ahead of another blockbuster derby against the Renegades.
Morgan Steps Up Just In Time To Say Farewell
I said in the lead up to this game it was time for the Thunder's senior players to really stand tall, and Englishman Eoin Morgan delivered under pressure here. Morgan is a class player and, despite not quite hitting his straps in BBL6, last night he carried the Thunder on his back and threw them over the line. Morgan really struggled through the early part of his innings, scoring just 17 runs from his first 28 balls. However he refused to throw it away or panic, and eventually came home with a wet sail, scoring 54 runs from his final 23 balls to propel the Thunder to an improbable victory. On a painfully slow wicket, Morgan struggled with his timing, however was ice cool under pressure in the final five overs. He managed to keep his shape and pick up a few slower balls and start to manipulate the ball to different gaps on the field. It was the perfect farewell gift from Morgan, who is off to India to captain England in a 3-match ODI series.
Stars' Final Five Overs With The Bat Costly
The Melbourne Stars didn't lose this game with the ball, they lost it in their final five overs with the bat. To be fair, both Scott Boland and Ben Hilfenhaus did a decent job at the death, as did the rest of the Stars' attack. James Faulkner was off his game, however Adam Zampa bowled an excellent spell through the middle overs. The Stars had an outstanding platform at 3/147 in the 16th over, however were guilty of completely butchering what should have been a score of 180+. As things turned out, even 170 would have been enough to give them a crucial win. The Stars really need opening batsman Robert Quiney back into the side to give their batting greater strength and depth. At the moment, their batting looks a little thin through the middle to lower order with Marcus Stoinis, Sam Harper and Adam Zampa a combination that has struggled badly the past couple of games. Quiney's return will allow Glenn Maxwell to slot back into Number 4 and James Faulkner down to 6, which should ensure the Stars are far more productive through the middle and at the end of an innings. Stoinis and Zampa were faced with some excellent death bowling from the Thunder, however were guilty of losing their shape and swinging too hard at balls where bat on ball was required.
Harper Impresses With The Gloves
It's not often I give wicketkeepers credit, however Sam Harper put in an outstanding display behind the wickets for the Stars. On a drizzly and slippery night, Harper's footwork was excellent in mopping up a few wayward offerings from the Stars' bowlers. Harper took a blinder of a catch to dismiss Thunder captain Shane Watson, diving low to his right and plucking the ball in his webbing at full stretch, just an inch off the ground. He also saved a few wides going for more runs and was sharp up at the stumps to the spinners. Harper has struggled with the bat so far in this BBL, however what you can't measure is how many runs he saved with that blinding catch for Watson? Cricket needs some stats that measure the true value of a player. The old school outstanding wicketkeeper that bats in the lower order is becoming less and less important in the modern game. Harper is a promising prospect having played for Australia Under 19's and already had four First Class games for Victoria.
Lurkers Perfect Night Spoiled
With one ball to go at Spotless Stadium, The Lurker was looking at the perfect treble with the Thunder requiring a 6 to steal things away from him. Much to his horror, that is exactly what happened as Eoin Morgan ruined the Lurker's treble and sent him to his fourth loss of the season. So, despite Kevin Pietersen scoring 50+ and Glenn Maxwell scoring 25 + the Lurker drops to 12-4 and continues his patchy start to 2017. Will The Lurker finally drop back-to-back games, or can he bounce back as the Heat travel to Perth to take on the Scorchers.