Helped by the fastest half-century in their history and another contribution from their skipper, Thunder notched up their highest score in their BBL history. In reply, their spinners choked the Stars and handed them a 75-run defeat: their heaviest in terms of runs in BBL history
Testament of the carnage they wreaked is the fact that there were only five overs in the Thunder innings that resulted in runs in single digits. Moreover, Thunder played only 29 dot balls in their entire innings.
A 21-ball fifty by Hales got Thunder off to a flier
It takes courage to take the ball after the last over you bowled gifted the game to the opposition. But, Glenn Maxwell had a point to prove. He started with a useful over that went for only two. However, he bowled one over too many as Alex Hales took him for 14 in his next over, the third of the innings. Hales came down the ground to hit Maxwell over long-on for a six, then followed it up with a cut and punch down the ground for four in the same over.
Not changing his lengths from the mediocre last game, Billy Stanlake continued the short-ball strategy. The batsmen continued to make merry off him as both Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja collected a boundary each on the leg-side, in a 13-run second over.
Hales destroyed what seemed like a decent fourth over by Liam Hatcher. Before hitting the last ball to the left of deep mid-wicket for a six, he hit the ball before for a boundary past mid-on.
Hales continued the onslaught against the young Afghan - Zahir Khan. He hit him for two boundaries in the same region - between deep midwicket and deep square-leg albeit to different shots. He swept the full one and when Khan corrected his length, he rocked back, ready to unleash the pull.
The worst was yet to come for the Stars. Hales demoralized their strike bowler, Adam Zampa, slog sweeping him for two sixes to bring up his half-century.
After the first six overs, the carnage did not stop for the Stars as Hales continued to bat in overdrive. It took the left-arm spin of Nick Maddinson the end the onslaught. Looking to keep hitting boundaries, Hales skied the ball back to the bowler just after hitting him for a six. However, that did not prevent Thunder from ensuring a seventh consecutive over with runs in double digits.
The momentum went on
A quiet over followed Hales' departure. But, it did not continue for long as Callum Ferguson and Khawaja hit a six each of Zampa and Maxwell to further the double-digit carnage.
A change in length from big Billy then brought Stars into the match somewhat. Khawaja hit a full slower ball straight to extra cover while Oliver Davis could not produce a show after five consecutive six in the last game. Looking to play the ball on the leg side, Davis got a leading edge to another slower ball to Dunk in the ring on the offside.
This did not stop Ferguson as the Thunder collected 23 runs in the next two overs. Stars did miss an opportunity after Dunk shelled a tough chance at deep midwicket to dismiss Thunder skipper. Before this game, none of the Stars bowlers had ever dismissed Ferguson in a T20 before. Zampa changed that having him caught at mid-off for a 33-ball 51.
Ben Cutting and Chris Green played cameos to enable Thunder to finish on a high. Cutting smashed three consecutive boundaries off Liam Hatcher in the 18th over while Green dominated Zampa by using his feet in the 19th. They finished at 219/7: the third-highest total in BBL history overall.
Stars were never in the chase
Chasing a mammoth target, the Stars started with relative caution. Andre Fletcher used Adam Milne's pace whenever he offered room to hit him for a four and six on the offside. Stoinis attacked Chris Tremain in the third over, first hitting a short and wide to hit a six on the offside and two more boundaries to wrap up the over.
In the next over - the last of the Powerplay - Stoinis smashed Green for two fours, one through the offside and one down the ground. To the fifth ball that was short, he failed to pierce the offside gap. Looking to hit the last ball harder he failed to get the elevation and ended up hitting straight to point.
With the end of the Powerplay and the wicket of Stoinis, Stars could not continue the momentum. They scored only six runs in the next two overs. To make things worse, the Stars lost another wicket as Fletcher failed to clear deep midwicket while taking the aggressive route against Green.
It was six and out for both Hilton Cartwright and, more importantly, Nicholas Pooran. Cartwright flat-batted Milne to hit a six towards the long-off region. In the next over, Tanveer Sangha lured him out of the crease only to be out stumped. Pooran hooked Daniels Sams past the fine-leg fence in the next over but, mistimed him to long-on two balls later.
Far behind in the game, the Stars crossed Thunder's tally of dot balls (29) in the 10th over. They opted to take the Power Surge in the 12th over but even that did not result in anything substantial. The Stars scored only 14 of the two Surge overs while losing the wicket of Maddinson who played Green on to his stumps.
With the asking rate climbing above 18, Maxwell had no other option than to attack every ball. His departure, via top-edge on a Tremain bouncer, sucked any hope from the run-chase.
The X-factor sub, Ben Dunk, spoilt Green's figures with three consecutive sixes in the 15th over. But, Green had the last laugh by making him his fourth victim of the night after Dunk failed to clear long-off in an attempt to the fourth consecutive six.
With back to back losses, Stars need to rejig their bowling attack. Meanwhile, Thunder sit pretty at the top of the table with four consecutive wins.