"Swing hard" - That's the mantra Ben McDermott lives by!
The wicketkeeper-batsman pummelled eight fours and five maximums in his 56-ball 96 and propelled Hobart Hurricanes to a thumping six-wicket win over Sydney Thunder in Match No. 43 of the Big Bash League 2020-21 at the Manuka Oval, Canberra on Monday (January 18). McDermott might have missed out on a century but the 26-year-old helped Hobart break their three-match losing streak and move to No. 4 in the points table. Meanwhile, the Thunder are still placed at No. 2 but have now lost three games in a row.
Asked to bat, Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales got Sydney off to a superb start before Scott Boland (4/41) took three wickets in an over to turn the game in Hobart's favour. Sam Billings (34-ball 50) however scored a crucial fifty and along with fiery cameos from Daniel Sams and Ben Cutting propelled Hobart to a total of 177/5 on a beautiful batting surface. In response, the Thunder lost their openers early but McDermott and Dawid Malan (28-ball 42) put on 109 runs for the third wicket and the Hurricanes chased down the total in 18 overs.
BOLAND KEEPS THUNDER UNDER 180
Khawaja and Hales have been in pretty good touch and the former got the ball rolling with an eye-pleasing cover drive. Hales however went one step further and announced his arrival by whacking Boland out of the park. Riley Meredith managed to trouble both the batsmen with his pace but Hales lined up Boland and accumulated 18 runs off him. Khawaja too played a couple of good-looking shots but it was Hales who dominated the powerplay.
Skipper Peter Handscomb didn't waste any time and straightaway brought Sandeep Lamichhane and D'Arcy Short into the attack once the powerplay was done. The two wristspinners started well but that's when Khawaja took over and crafted a couple of crucial boundaries to keep the scoreboard racing. The duo added 64 runs for the opening wicket before Boland turned the game on its head by taking three wickets in an over. The right-arm seamer, who was smashed all around the park in his first over, got rid of Hales (23-ball 29), Oliver Davies (0) and Khawaja (22-ball 27) in the space of five deliveries and brought Hobart back in the game.
As expected, the scoring rate dropped down a bit and the onus was on Callum Ferguson and Billings to form a partnership. The two focused on the strike rotation but there were occasional boundaries. Lamichhane (0/28) didn't take a wicket but the legspinner from Nepal was fairly economical. The Hurricanes paid the price for dropping Billings as the wicketkeeper-batsman from England changed gears and took the attack to Short. The momentum once again started to turn in Sydney's favour as Billings started smashing boundaries at regular intervals.
Billings however didn't get much support from Ferguson who couldn't get those crucial boundaries. The latter tried his best before he was knocked by Nathan Ellis for 23 off 24 deliveries. Billings was targeting the leg side but Ellis was impeccable with his line and length and kept everything away from the Englishman's reach.
The Power Surge (overs 18-19) was going to be crucial for the Thunder but Boland came back into the attack and dismissed Billings after he completed his fifty. The situation was perfect for Cutting and Sams to cut loose and that's exactly what they did. Cutting first slammed Boland for consecutive boundaries before him and Sams slammed Ellis for 18 runs in the penultimate over. The two helped Sydney accumulate 33 runs from the Power Surge before Meredith bowled an outstanding final over, giving away just seven runs.
THERE IS NO STOPPING McDERMOTT
The Hurricanes got off to a worst possible start as Adam Milne knocked over Will Jacks for a first-ball duck with a superb inswinger. The paceman from New Zealand was quick and extracted good movement with the new ball. Before the dust had settled, Short (6) tried to heave Nathan McAndrew but ended up getting caught at mid-on. The onus was on McDermott and Malan to rebuild and the two started well. Malan in particular took the attack to Tanveer Sangha and McAndrew from the word go and allowed McDermott to take some time to settle in.
The left-hander from England slammed Sangha for a maximum before McDermott too joined the party. The latter displayed his brute power when he smoked McAndrew out of the park with utmost ease and the duo ensured Hobart got the Bash Boost point. Once McDermott started getting those boundaries, Malan took the back seat and allowed the former to dictate terms.
With 94 needed off 60, the Hurricanes straightaway took the Power Surge (overs 11-12) once available. Milne and Sams weren't at their best as they kept bowling McDermott in his preferred slot and the right-hander made the most of it. Milne was smacked for two fours, while Sams was clobbered for two massive sixes on the leg side. A total of 31 runs were scored in those two overs as the required run-rate dropped to less than eight.
Sydney were in desperate need of a wicket as the game was slipping away pretty quickly. And, it was once again Sangha who got the much-needed wicket. Malan tried to reverse sweep the legspinner but ended up hitting it straight to the fielder at point. Just when the pressure was starting to build on Handscomb, Alex Ross - the substitute fielder - dropped a catch at deep square leg and to make things worse, the ball went over the rope.
Ferguson tried everything but McDermott kept smashing everyone out of the park. He slammed Chris Green and Sangha for a six each but fell short of a well-deserved century by four runs. McDermott was dropped on 94 but fell to Sangha on the very next delivery. Handscomb (16-ball 21*) chipped in with a handy cameo and finished the job with back-to-back boundaries.