Marcus Stoinis' stunning 55-ball 97*, followed by Andre Fletcher's two match-winning catches in the second innings helped Melbourne Stars survive Ben McDermott scare and break their three-game losing streak in the Big Bash League 2020-21 at the Bellerive Oval on Monday (January 4). McDermott smashed 91 off 58 deliveries and almost got the job done for Hobart Hurricanes. Melbourne, who lost to Hobart on Saturday, are now at No. 4 in the points table, just below the Hurricanes.
The Stars batsmen struggled to get going in the first 10 overs after being asked to bat first before Stoinis and Co. wreaked havoc in the second half of the innings and propelled his team to an above-par total of 183/6. Having scored 63 in the first 10 overs, Melbourne smashed 120 in the second half of the innings. In reply, the Hurricanes couldn't even score 63 in the first 10 overs and handed the Bash Boost point to Melbourne. That's when McDermott started smashing boundaries for fun and kept his team alive till the very last over, only to fall 10 runs short.
STOINIS DOES IT AGAIN
Having struggled to stamp his authority in the tournament so far, Fletcher would have been eager to get some runs under his belt and it looked like the luck was on his side for the first three deliveries. The dasher from West Indies managed a couple of boundaries via outside and inside edge respectively, but that was it. Fletcher (10) might have been unlucky but the right-hander was given caught behind in the very first over.
Meanwhile, Stoinis tonked the very first delivery he faced out of the ground and announced his arrival in style. The big all-rounder however was watchful against Scott Boland who dismissed him in the last encounter. Boland and Nathan Ellis didn't bowl anything in Stoinis' arc and it took him few deliveries to adjust to the length. The right-handed opener didn't bog down and responded with a couple of ferocious cut shots.
Coming in at No. 3, Nick Larkin (9-ball 4) looked far from his best and was undone by Riley Meredith's pace. The right-arm fast bowler was impressive with the new ball and got two early breakthroughs for Hobart. Meredith (2/25) kept hitting the deck but Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell did well to play him out. Maxwell (6), who smoked a 37-ball 70 against the same bowling attack on Saturday, failed to make any impact and was pinned right in front of the stumps off Sandeep Lamichhane. The Big Show had the better of Lamichhane on Saturday but the legspinner from Nepal got his sweet revenge today.
With wickets falling at the other end, Stoinis had to slow down and focus on the strike rotation. The onus was on him and Nicholas Pooran to build a partnership but they were up against two wristspinners - Lamichhane and D'Arcy Short. Pooran tried to be aggressive from the word go, while Stoinis went after Botha and didn't allow the veteran offspinner to settle in. The big man started opening up his shoulders after Pooran's arrival and clobbered Short for two massive maximums to bring up his fifty off 37 deliveries.
The two batsmen were in and decided to take the Power Surge (overs 13-14) to up the ante. These two overs were going to be crucial and Pooran and Stoinis whacked Boland for 21 runs to turn the momentum a bit in Melbourne's favour. The two hitters displayed brute power, but before Pooran (21-ball 26) could do any further damage, Ellis knocked him over with a superb slower delivery. Despite losing a crucial wicket, Melbourne managed to accumulate 26 from those two overs.
The surface was solid and it was up to Stoinis to get as many runs as possible in the last five overs. The 31-year-old kept smashing sixes for fun and also found an able ally in Hilton Cartwright. The latter took some time to settle in before slamming three sixes in the space of two overs. The right-hander took some pressure off Stoinis who was inching closer towards his second BBL century. The Hurricanes bowlers struggled in the last 10 overs and allowed Stoinis and Co. to dictate terms.
Cartwright hit three sixes in his 24-ball 36 and added 56 runs for the fifth wicket before becoming Ellis' second victim. The right-arm pacer finished with impressive figures of 3/31. Stoinis needed 21 in the final over to get to his century and hammered four boundaries in the first five deliveries. Boland was all over the place but Stoinis could only manage two off the final delivery and missed out on a well-deserved century.
McDERMOTT SHOWS HIS CLASS AND POWER
Sam Rainbird and Glenn Maxwell were pretty tidy in the powerplay and didn't allow McDermott and Short to get off to a brisk start. Rainbird, the left-arm seamer, was almost perfect with his length and conceded only eight runs in his first two overs. The required run-rate soon went up to 10 and the platform was set for Adam Zampa who was making his return after serving a one-match ban. Hobart didn't lose a single wicket in the first four overs but could only manage 19 runs.
The pressure was starting to build on the two openers and it finally got the better of Short. The left-hander could only score 8 off 13 deliveries before falling to Rainbird who was fantastic with the new ball. McDermott did try to break the shackles by crafting Billy Stanlake for consecutive boundaries but Maxwell took him out of the attack and brought in Zampa and Liam Hatcher. Dawid Malan was cautious with his approach at the start but McDermott was slowly starting to get into his groove. The right-hander tonked Zampa for a six and a four in the ninth over but Stanlake bowled a terrific 10th over to hand Melbourne the Bash Boost point.
With 124 needed off 60, Hobart were almost in a similar position where Melbourne were at the halfway mark. McDermott and Malan had to cut loose and that's exactly what they did. In the process, McDermott also completed his fifty. A total of 29 runs were scored in the next two overs, but just when the partnership was starting to look dangerous, Zampa returned into the attack and got rid of Malan. The top-ranked T20I batsman scored 26 off 22 but couldn't convert it into something substantial.
McDermott kept finding boundaries at regular intervals but didn't take the Power Surge till the start of the 16th over. The Hurricanes required 75 off 30 and that's when all hell broke loose. McDermott smashed Hatcher for 17 runs in the first over of the Power Surge before Colin Ingram joined the party and slam Stanlake for a six and a four in the next over. Fletcher pulled off a blinder at sweeper cover to send Ingram (13-ball 17) back to the hut in the same over but Hobart still managed 18 off it.
The Stars needed one tight over and they got that from Rainbird (2/22) who dismissed Tim David and gave away nine runs to bring the equation down to 31 off 12. Peter Handscomb walked out all guns blazing and smoked a four and a six in his first five deliveries, but Fletcher once again pulled off a screamer at extra cover to get rid of McDermott. The opener smacked eight fours and five sixes in his 58-ball 91 before perishing in the penultimate over. Skipper Handscomb played a fiery cameo of 9-ball 22 but it was not enough to get the job done.