Late storm not enough as Hurricanes fall to Carey classic

Adelaide Strikers vs Hobart Hurricanes
Adelaide Strikers 187-4 (Carey 100, Weatherald 65, Archer 27-3) def Hobart Hurricanes 176-4 (Doolan 70*, McDermott 45, Short 28) by 11 runs at Adelaide Oval

D’Arcy Short was on strike, and looked slightly tied down against the disciplined bowling of the Adelaide Strikers. The Hobart Hurricanes were behind in their pursuit of the Strikers’ formidable 187, and the in-form Short was shaping as their biggest hope. With the last ball of his second over Michael Neser delivered a slower ball pitching on a good length. It was the kind of delivery Short has smoked to the boundary in his previous innings, but this time he could only get a slight edge off the toe of the bat. Alex Carey, taking the gloves after compiling a first-innings century in sweltering conditions at the Adelaide Oval, dived forwards with his legs spread, and took the catch easily. The Strikers’ initial reaction was one of subdued shock giving way to elation, as the BBL’s leading run scorer was dismissed. The Hurricanes fought hard, and gave the hosts a late scare with a series of boundaries, but without Short’s clean-hitting and dependable presence they just couldn’t get over the line as the Strikers moved to the top of the table.

The Strikers benefitted from an opening partnership which laid a formidable platform. Carey was the main man, marching to an imperious century with poise and power. He was perfectly calm despite a slow start, and when the runs started to flow he began to put the Hurricanes under pressure. He closed out the PowerPlay with a flat six against Tymal Mills, and displayed excellent temperament as he continued to work the ball around and run up the score with some clinical batting. He survived after skying one against D’Arcy Short following some calamitous fielding from Cameron Boyce, and with the aid of some shocking mishaps on the boundary he cruised to 73 off 46 balls. Then he exploded. Dan Christian, bowling the sixteenth over, was the victim of the savage assault, with ball after ball flying off the middle of the bat and running to the boundary. 22 came from the over, and Carey brought up a classy century with an easy single to the mid-wicket boundary off the bowling of Boyce. He let some rare emotion cross his usually unflustered face as he celebrated the second ton of the season, and the Hurricanes were in big trouble.

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Partners in crime: Alex Carey (left) and Jake Weatherald celebrate after Carey brings up his century.

Their problems were exacerbated by Jake Weatherald’s dramatic return to form. Weatherald came into the game out of touch and under pressure, having failed to deliver an innings worthy of his immense talent and ball striking ability. He started slowly as the Hurricanes sought to tie him down with the left-arm spin of Clive Rose and Short, but a pair of boundaries against Rose and Jofra Archer allowed him to find some rhythm. When Mills entered the attack Weatherald hit him for a comfortable six over the very short leg-side boundary, and he withstood the post PowerPlay spin attack which has so often proved his downfall. When Archer returned to the attack he was hit into the stands, and with a sweep shot which evaded Archer’s dive at fine-leg and a well-run single he brought up his first fifty of the tournament. He continued to press forward, and soon the pair had added 171.

With a massive total in the offing, Archer stepped up. He delivered a series of perfect yorkers, and extracted reverse swing in the dying overs while accounting for all four wickets to fall. Weatherald was the first to depart, falling to Archer’s remarkable play of the day, a direct hit run out completed while the flamboyant import lay on his back. The next ball saw the end of Carey’s brilliant knock, as Archer fired a lightning quick yorker past his futile swing. Colin Ingram and Jonathan Wells struggled to gain traction against some accurate bowling, and eventually Wells was out lbw to a ball which cannoned into his foot. Then Jake Lehmann, the unfortunately mustachioed son of the Australian coach, was left spreadeagled on the ground after he was clean bowled. Archer had limited the damage, but without the support of his teammates the final tally of 187 looked formidable.

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Too good: Jofra Archer leaves Jake Lehmann both dismissed and embarrassed with a ripping delivery.

The Hurricanes didn’t start well enough, with Short and Alex Doolan struggling to get going early against some disciplined PowerPlay bowling. Billy Stanlake managed to build up some dots against Short, and a series of cleanly hit boundaries against Neser weren’t enough to get the red-hot opener going. The Hurricanes’ chase was beginning to flag before Short’s departure, as Doolan was unable to score faster than a run a ball and the asking rate climbed steadily. George Bailey came in, but he couldn’t provide the spark, and was clean bowled by an inch-perfect Peter Siddle yorker. With Short’s failure, the Hurricanes simply had no answer to the Strikers’ top-quality attack. They needed someone to step up, but it wasn’t clear who was capable.

Then Doolan got going, immediately after being hit in the helmet by a vicious Ben Laughlin bouncer. The first few boundaries hardly inspired fear, with a series of edges flying past Carey on their way to the fence. One might have said it was just Doolan swinging hard, as well he should with the required rate sitting at nearly 13 an over. Then he started to score some runs with genuine cricket shots, and things got a little testy. Before this game, Rashid Khan had not conceded more than 23 runs in a four-over spell. Doolan hit him for 20 in one over, launching him into the stands three times and bringing up his fifty in the process. Then he was dropped, as Siddle missed a straightforward chance and split the webbing on his finger. There was doubt as to whether the former Test star could bowl another over, and suddenly the Strikers were under a bit of pressure.

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Having a crack: Alex Doolan swings hard during his unbeaten 70.

Ben McDermott added to that pressure by throwing his clean hitting into the mix. After bursting onto the scene last year with a blistering century in a record chase, McDermott has only been able to show flashes of his best form this time around. Twice he has launched balls onto the roof of Blundstone Arena, but he hadn’t been able to convert his starts into something meaningful. This was his chance, and he looked set to seize it with a series of boundaries, all hit as clean as a whistle. He had moved into the forties, and when Laughlin miscued with a low full toss he had a chance to bring up his fifty. Instead, he hit the errant ball straight to Wells, who showed composure which stood apart from the poor fielding exhibited in the rest of the match and held on. Doolan’s luck and power seemed to evaporate with the loss of his partner, and the Strikers were spared any more nervous moments by Siddle’s brilliant return to the attack and Neser’s calmly bowled last over. Just like that, the Hurricanes’ five-game winning streak was ended, and the Strikers re-established their credentials as a genuine title contender with a crucial win.

Top 5
1. Alex Carey (Adelaide Strikers)
Carey batted with confidence from start to finish, and hit the ball cleanly on his way to a well-compiled hundred. Some of his flat sixes were remarkable shots, and he combined perfectly with Weatherald to put on 171 for the first wicket and all but bat the Hurricanes out of the game. He put in a tired effort with the gloves, but still managed to take a nice catch and pull off some neat work behind the stumps.
2. Alex Doolan (Hobart Hurricanes)
Doolan flicked a switch halfway through his innings, and began to get the score ticking over at a rapid rate with a combination of streaky edges and well-hit slog sweeps. He achieved the rare feat of hitting Rashid for three sixes in an over, and showed an aggressive side that had been missing in his previous innings. He batted through the innings, and will be happy with his half-century.
3. Jake Weatherald (Adelaide Strikers)
Weatherald came into the game in the middle of a form slump, but found his best form and combined with Carey to devastating effect. He was the slower of the two openers, but he managed to play some nice shots and displayed plenty of power against the quicks. His efforts at deep mid-wicket stood out on an otherwise dismal day for fielding.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer can do plenty of things wrong, but barely a game passes without him providing a moment worthy of a place on the highlight reels. In this game, it was a direct hit while lying on the ground, and he followed it up with a top-class display of death bowling to limit the Strikers to 187. His ability to reverse swing the ball at extreme pace made him a nightmare to face at the end of the innings.
5. Michael Neser (Adelaide Strikers)
Neser’s night got off to a horror start as Short took an initial liking to him, but he recovered cleverly to remove the in-form opener and keep things tight with an impressive array of variations. He was unlucky not to remove Doolan, and bowled very well at the death to close out the win for the Strikers. He showed plenty of maturity, and his newfound consistency bodes well for the Strikers.

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Strikers win big as Heat go cold

Adelaide Strikers vs Brisbane Heat
Adelaide Strikers 147-7 (Neser 40*, Lalor 40-3, Yasir 18-2) def Brisbane Heat 91 (Laughlin 11-3, Neser 7-2, Rashid 19-2) by 56 runs at Adelaide Oval

Chris Lynn wasn’t out. The Brisbane Heat’s bald-headed, big hitting destroyer of attacks played and missed at his third ball, a well-flighted leg break from Rashid Khan, the Afghan teenage sensation tasked with removing him. There was a noise as it passed through into the gloves of Alex Carey. It could have been the bat clipping the ground. It could have been something else. At this point, all that mattered was the fact that it wasn’t the bat and the cruel injustice of the umpire’s raised finger, heralding the end of an all-too-brief stay at the crease. If it was a Test match, Lynn would have been reprieved by the mercy of the DRS. Instead, he could only shake his head with indignation writ large upon his usually impassive face as he made his way back to the pavilion. The Heat never recovered, as the Adelaide Strikers cut swathes through their star-studded line up on their way to a crushing victory.

The Strikers had done well to reach a below-par 147. Josh Lalor had seized the early initiative, bowling Carey and Jake Weatherald with a pair of near identical balls which swung past their inside edges as they looked to play big slogs and clipped the top of leg stump. Travis Head survived the loss of the openers, but was tied down by Yasir Shah and was bowled when he looked to go for the big hit. When Jonathan Wells bunted a catch to short cover and Colin Ingram showed poor match awareness to pick out the man in the deep with the last ball of Yasir’s spell, the Strikers appeared set for a big defeat.

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Recovery: Michael Neser hits to the leg side during his 40 not out.

Then Jake Lehmann and Michael Neser stepped up to mount an unlikely recovery, abetted by the Heat’s poor fielding. Lehmann was dropped first ball by Mark Steketee and on two by Lalor, and a misfield from Cameron Gannon gifted him his first boundary. There were edges just past the keeper and mishits all over the ground, but he dug in and just kept going. It was Neser who provided the fireworks. He too was dropped, Lalor missing a tough chance at mid-on, and went on to hit the ball with plenty of power. A short ball from Lalor was smashed for six, and the next one was drilled through the field for four. Lehmann was finally caught the next over, but when Rashid came in and hit his first ball over point for six, the Strikers had salvaged something from the wreck of their destroyed top order. Still, 147 was nowhere near enough against the biggest hitting batting line-up in the league.

In isolation, the Heat may have been able to withstand Lynn’s departure, even coming just after James Peirson had holed out against Head. When it came with a complementary batting collapse, however, they were never going to escape. Joe Burns was undone by Billy Stanlake’s sharp pace and bounce, and popped up a catch for a sliding Rashid. Then Neser, with his first ball, joined the action by ripping through the defences of the red hot Alex Ross with a ball that swung and seamed through the gate. Ben Cutting played some nice shots against Rashid, but fell playing a shot that can best by described as a limp cut shot bunt into the waiting hands of Ingram. Brendon McCullum had opened the batting, and could only witness the chaos from the other end.

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Smiling assassin: Rashid Khan (right) celebrates after his controversial dismissal of Chris Lynn.

Gannon joined him after Cutting departed, and began to play some nice shots, but it was hard to see any means by which the Heat could be saved from themselves. Eventually McCullum, completely starved of strike and frustrated by the effort of stifling his usual belligerence at the crease, looked to take on Neser and gave away his wicket. It was over. All the Strikers had to do was go through the motions, as some bizarre running from Gannon cost Lalor his wicket. It was Peter Siddle who completed it off his own bowling, picking the ball up at Lalor’s feet and calmly throwing down the bowler’s end stumps. On a New Year’s Eve night, the only thing resembling fireworks was the lighting up of the specially coloured stumps, as Ben Laughlin disposed of Steketee with an unplayable in-swinging yorker and Rashid finally broke through Gannon’s stoic resistance. When Mitchell Swepson holed out to give Laughlin a third wicket, it concluded a game which had been going through the motions for some time. The Heat showed no resilience or determination, and paid a heavy price.

Top 5
1. Michael Neser (Adelaide Strikers)
Neser was the sole reason the Strikers had a total to defend, hitting some excellent shots in the closing overs of the innings on his way to a valuable 40 not out. He took two key wickets in the second innings and was very hard to get away, finishing with 2/7 and the scalps of Ross and McCullum to complete a perfect game.
2. Ben Laughlin (Adelaide Strikers)
Laughlin was once again in the wickets, finishing with 3/11, and bowled as well as he has all season. He removed Steketee with a perfectly delivered yorker, and his skills were on full display as he backed up his teammates’ devastating PowerPlay with some accurate and very clever bowling to dismiss Cutting.
3. Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers)
Rashid was again in top form with the ball, getting hit around by Cutting but otherwise delivering with the massive wicket of Lynn and the removal of top scorer Gannon. He turned the ball both ways with ease, grabbed a catch and hit a six with his first ball faced in the Big Bash to complete an entertaining all-round game.
4. Yasir Shah (Brisbane Heat)
Yasir showed the class that made him one of the best bowlers in world cricket, removing Head and Ingram to drive a wedge through the Strikers middle order on his way to excellent figures of 2/18. He mixed things up well and barely bowled a bad ball, and looks like an good choice to replace Shadab Khan as the Heat’s overseas player.
5. Josh Lalor (Brisbane Heat)
Lalor was very good with ball in hand, removing both Strikers openers and creating plenty of issues with his ability to swing the ball back in to the left-handers. He was expensive towards the end of his spell, but dismissed Rashid immediately after being hit for six to finish with a well-deserved three wickets.