T20 games are often turned around one over or the unnecessary drinks break that we see in various leagues. The Big Bash encounter tonight, between Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers, was another such game.
At the midway mark in Thunder’s run-chase, it felt like the Scorchers will pull off another stunning bowling effort to defend the sub-par total of 152. They brought their strike bowler, Jason Behrendorff, for his last over of the match, suggesting they are going for the kill. But this was the point which will change the flow of the game.
Debutant Oliver Davies tonked Behrendorff over six off the first ball post the drinks break. Thunder’s coach, Shane Bond, in an on-field interview said the guy has the talent but he did not expect it first ball after the drinks. Fourth ball brought another six and it was the beginning of the onslaught which would knock Scorchers out of the contest.
After only 58 runs in the first 10 overs, the Thunder put together 51 runs in the next four, without the Power Surge. Davies scored 36 off 22 balls before being stumped to Fawad Ahmed on the last ball off the 14th over. Skipper Callum Ferguson was also nearing his fifty, eventually reaching there in the next over, off 38 balls, after a dodgy start, which also saw the wicketkeeper spill his catch when he was batting on 2. Their stand, overall, was 75 runs from 44 balls, enough to end the chase effectively when the target is 153.
While Davies’ knock was adventurous, charging down every bowler he faced, Ferguson calculated his progress judiciously. He was on 2 after 10 balls and waited until Fawad Ahmed arrived to the bowling attack - in the ninth over - milking him for two fours. He later tore into the young Aaron Hardie, taking him for 13 runs in the 13th over. The skipper remained unbeaten on 61 and also bagged the man-of-the-match award.
When his partnership with Davies ended, Ben Cutting took over. He often takes time at the beginning of his innings but with Power Surge into effect from the 16th over, he let himself loose. He struck Jhye Richardrson for a four and a six in the first over of the surge, bringing the required-rate below 6 per over. He scored an unbeaten 29 from the remaining 44 runs which were remaining when he arrived at the crease as Thunder razed off the target with three balls to spare.
The Tough Start
The Thunder lost Alex Hales early once again - for his second golden duck in a row. Behrendorff brought the ball in towards Hales, castling the right-hander in the classical left-arm seamer’s style, which we have seen a few times in this BBL season already. Richardson backed it up, cutting Ferguson in two halves in the next over, but remained out of luck to snap a wicket.
Scorchers gave Behrendorff an extra over - third of the spell - and the move almost paid off. Josh Inglis, however, spilled a tough chance to send Ferguson for 2 and it cost the Scorchers dearly. AJ Tye dismissed Usman Khawaja off his first delivery of the match in the next over but the umpire ruled otherwise.
Runs stayed far and few in between and Khawaja perished trying to take the attack to the Hardie. At this moment, even the Bash Boost point seemed improbable but a calm Ferguson later ensured it with three balls to spare as the Thunder secured all 4 points from the contest.
Scorchers’ travails with the bat
Put into bat first, Scorcher’ innings never gathered momentum. For a change, they did not lose any wicket in the Powerplay but it was a sedate start from Josh Inglis, accumulating 22 runs in the four-over phase.
As soon as the field restrictions were restricted, Scorchers lost two wickets in the fifth over. Inglis perished in a failed attempt to up the ante and Joe Clarke was run out before opening his account. Few balls later, Munro was dismissed through a rebound catch between Usman Khawaja and Adam Milne.
Scorchers surprised everyone by opting for the Power surge straightaway after the drinks break. The decision worked partly as they churned out 30 runs from those two overs. However, they lost the important wicket of Ashton Turner.
They had 17 runs from the 11th over before Turner fell on the last ball - crisp shot played straight to point. Scorchers continued with their surprises by sending Richardson as a pinch hitter at number 6. He contributed to the cause in the second over of the surge with a boundary but fell in the next over to Tanveer Sangha for 5.
The momentum was instilled briefly but the Thunder pulled things back again conceding only 16 runs in the next three overs until the 15th over mark.
The hopes were pinned on Mitchell Marsh for a grand finish. He scored 19 runs from the 10 balls he faced during the death overs but it was Cameron Bancroft who got the bulk of strike and did the scoring - 29 runs from 20 balls. Scorchers scored 50 runs in the last five overs. The Marsh and Bancroft pair added 61 runs from 44 balls giving Scorchers a fighting chance. In the end, it did not prove to be enough.
The win has lifted the Thunder from sixth spot on the points table to the fourth. Scorchers remain at seventh, in search of their first win of the season.