Thunder spinners rumble hapless Hurricanes

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder
Sydney Thunder 166-5 (Buttler 67, Watson 41, Rose 20-2) def Hobart Hurricanes 109 (Doolan 34, Archer 25*, Ahmed 14-2, Nair 17-2, McClenaghan 19-2, Sandhu 29-2, Green 30-2) by 57 runs at University of Tasmania Stadium

As Alex Doolan and D’Arcy Short walked out to open the Hobart Hurricanes’ pursuit of the 167 set by the Sydney Thunder, the hosts could be forgiven for feeling optimistic. Thanks to some effective late overs bowling they had limited the Thunder fairly well in Launceston’s first ever Big Bash game, and they had given themselves a good chance of getting their first win of the season. In the last over of the match, Tymal Mills edged a ball from Gurinder Sandhu onto his thigh pad and watched it rebound onto his stumps, concluding an innings, and a night, the Hurricanes would like to forget.

The chase started well enough. Doolan hit a nice four against Chris Green, and Short took an immediate liking to Sandhu when he came on for the second over, hitting two fours against shortish balls and hitting a full one beautifully for a nice six. It was as good as it got for the Hurricanes. Short was bowled the next over as he looked to take on Mitchell McClenaghan, getting a slight inside edge onto his stumps. Ben McDermott was next to go, advancing down the wicket against Sandhu, swiping across the line, and, unsurprisingly, hitting the ball straight up for Jos Buttler to take a nice catch. The Hurricanes were 2/44 after the PowerPlay, and their momentum had stalled.

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Brain fade: George Bailey plays an ill-fated lofted cover drive during the Hurricanes’ collapse.

Then George Bailey went out. Bailey had a good chance to lead from the front even though he looked in poor form. When Fawad Ahmed flighted a ball up, he had many options available, such as trying to hit through a gap along the ground or bunting it down the ground for a single. He chose to go inside out over cover, and was caught on the fence. Arjun Nair removed Matthew Wade the next over, with the out-of-form keeper surrendering meekly with a hard-handed push straight back to the bowler. Cameron Boyce, promoted as a pinch hitter, was nearly stumped first ball and miscued a slog sweep on his second, gifting Ahmed another wicket.

Doolan had witnessed the carnage from the other end, and then decided to join in by playing yet another ill-fated slog and picking out Green perfectly. Clive Rose entered the action and was lucky to survive when he was beaten by Ahmed, with Buttler somehow failing to complete a simple stumping thanks to an inability to take off the bails. Neither Ahmed nor Nair would add to their tallies of two wickets apiece, but their efforts as both hammer and anvil all but killed off the match. The Hurricanes only reached 100 through the efforts of Rose and Jofra Archer, the former showing better technique than most of the specialist batsmen and the latter hitting the ball with plenty of power despite a series of dodgy bats, but they were never going to get close. The end of Mills’ dismal occupation of the crease heralded the cessation of play, but the game had been over for some time.

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In control: Jos Buttler hits another one out of the middle on his way to 67.

The Thunder had built their total on the back of Buttler and Shane Watson, with Watson playing a mature supporting innings while Buttler blasted his way to fifty with some big hitting. Archer removed Kurtis Patterson early courtesy of Bailey’s one-handed diving catch, but Buttler was unfazed as he played himself in before exploding in the twelfth over. Tom Rogers was the unfortunate victim of Buttler’s brutal assault, with four big sixes testing the outer limits of the University of Tasmania Stadium as he moved from 36 to 62 in the space of six balls. He was out shortly afterwards, bowled by Rose as he looked to give himself room, and the innings never reached such lofty heights again. Watson’s innings ended with a senseless piece of running, with the Thunder captain dawdling up the pitch as an outfield throw came in at his end. It cost him a 50, and the Hurricanes closed the innings out well thanks to some great bowling from Archer, Mills and Rose.

None of it mattered, however, as the Hurricanes lodged one of the worst batting performances of the season to raise concerns as to whether they can beat anyone. The Thunder showed signs of improvement, but it remains to be seen whether they can repeat the feat against the sterner opposition they are sure to face further down the track.

Top 5
1. Jos Buttler (Sydney Thunder)
Buttler almost won the game off his own bat, playing himself in well before exploding with a remarkable burst of timing and power to give his side a timely boost. He hit Rogers for a series of massive sixes, and looked like he could easily score a century before he was dismissed. Kept well and took a nice high catch, but made a horrible gaffe to gift Rose a reprieve.
2. Fawad Ahmed (Sydney Thunder)
Ahmed took 2/14 from his four overs in a remarkably consistent spell which all but ended the Hurricanes’ resistance. Bowled perfectly in conjunction with Nair, and was very unlucky not to finish with three after a brilliant spell of bowling. Left the field late, and the Thunder will hope he is still available.
3. Arjun Nair (Sydney Thunder)
Nair bagged a pair of nice wickets to remove Doolan and Wade, and showed his class and variation by spinning the ball both ways and causing massive problems. He wasn’t hit for any boundaries in a four-over spell, and, at 19 years of age, looks to be an exciting prospect for Australian cricket.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer showed a bit of nonchalant class with both bat and ball, hitting it fairly well for an unbeaten 25 and providing some very economical bowling. He extracted sharp bounce from the Launceston pitch, and the only knock on his performance was the excess of nonchalance in the field which led to a dropped catch over the rope for six.
5. Clive Rose (Hobart Hurricanes)
Rose is not really known for his all-round talents, but he unearthed some hitherto undiscovered cricketing prowess to bag a pair of key wickets and play some neat shots in a determined innings of 13. He was the pick of the Hurricanes’ bowlers and showed excellent calmness under pressure to dismiss a rampaging Buttler.

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