Thunder rumble on to keep BBL title dreams alive
Sydney's first Big Bash grand final could be about to become even bigger with the odds of an all Sydney showdown dramatically shortening after the Thunder's stunning eight run win in Adelaide last night.
With the Sixers already assured of hosting next Saturday's title decider at the Sydney Cricket Ground - their opponents will be either the fairytale Thunder or the choking Melbourne Stars.
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Lucky to sneak into the finals in fifth place, the Thunder are now just one win away from turning the final into a high-stakes Derby Smash after Saturday night's incredible win over the Strikers that followed their win over the Hobart Hurricanes two night earlier.
The Strikers will be kicking themselves after they looked to be cruising to victory with Alex Carey and Jon Wells in complete control, needing just 36 runs off the last five overs with seven wickets in hand.
But a suicidal quick run that saw Carey run out by a direct hit from Thunder's captain Callum Ferguson triggered a disastrous batting collapse.
Rashid Khan, Matt Short and Peter Siddle all fell for ducks while Michael Neser went for 12 and Wells for 34 as the Strikers lost 6-24 to finish on 9-143 in reply to Thunder's 7-151.
CHANGE OF FORTUNES
It's well documented how unlucky the Thunder have been this season but they got a change of fortune on Saturday night just when they needed it - and just when it looked like the cricket goods were conspiring against them.
When Usman Khawaja chopped the ball onto his stumps after racing to 15 and Arjun Nair was run out at the nonstriker's end after a sweetly struck Chris Morris straight drive clipped Siddle's foot and deflected into the stumps, it looked like another luckless night.
But what wasn't bad luck though was Ferguson's contentious dismissal because he simply should not have been given out lbw to Siddle.
Replays showed that the ball was clearly going over the top of the bails but because of Cricket Australia's refusal to allow teams to call for DRS, the fuming Thunder skipper had to go.
His wicket was critical. With a long tail, the Thunder rely heavily on their top three making the bulk of their runs but only man of the match Alex Hales made a significant score.
One of the players of the tournament with an aggregate of 568 runs, the big hitting English import belted four sixes in registering his sixth half-century of the season despite being battered and bruised after being hit once in the groin and another time in the guts.
Usman Khawaja (15) won the BBL 05 semi-final in Adelaide with a ton but Neser (1/21) rattled his Queensland teammates' stumps to win a key duel.
NEVER GIVE UP
Rashid Khan sent Hales on his way with a wide leg break the Englishman fended straight to Siddle at backward point and the Thunder just couldn't regain the momentum with the bat.
Defending 7-151, the Thunder needed everything to go their way when they took the ball but they looked no hope of winning until the last five overs when the wheels just fell off for the Strikers.
Daniel Sams took 3-26 to his record extending 30th wicket of the season while underrated spinner Jono Cook bagged two and all rounder Morris a pair as well to set up a meeting with the Stars at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.