Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin shared a brilliant 117-run partnership to fire Melbourne Stars into the Big Bash League final with a convincing 28-run win over Sydney Thunder.

The Stars topped the regular-season table but were battered by Sydney Sixers in last week's Qualifier.

However, they will get a shot at redemption in Saturday's showpiece after winning the Challenger on home turf at the MCG with Stoinis and man of the match Larkin each hammering 83 in an imposing score of 194-2.

Stoinis' knock saw him break the record for the most runs in a single BBL season and, despite Alex Ross putting on 45 and 58 with Chris Morris and Arjun Nair, the Thunder could only muster 166-8 in reply with Haris Rauf (3-17), Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-29) and Adam Zampa (2-43) doing the damage.

STOINIS AND LARKIN MAKE THUNDER TOIL

It has been a BBL season to remember for Stoinis, whose 695 runs so far betters the 637 accumulated by D'Arcy Short last term.

There were seven fours and three sixes from the Australia limited-overs international from his 54 balls, and he made the most of being dropped down the leg side by Jay Lenton.

While Stoinis was eventually bowled by Morris, Larkin was unbeaten come the end of a brutal 49-ball knock in which he clubbed three straight over the ropes and recorded another nine fours.

 

RAUF AND CO. FINISH THE JOB

The Thunder had already seen dangerman Alex Hales (8) run out and Usman Khawaja (23 off 15) bowled by Coulter-Nile after a promising start by the time Rauf tempted captain Callum Ferguson (7) into a misguided waft that sailed to wicketkeeper Seb Gotch. 

Needing partnerships, Ross – whose knock of 58 included three fours and as many sixes – was combining well with Morris before the latter was bowled by the brilliant Rauf.

The writing was on the wall even before Ross and Nair each fell to Zampa in the 17th over and Rauf claimed one more for his personal tally from the final set of six when Lenton picked out Nic Maddinson at deep midwicket.

The Sydney Thunder capitalised on a stunning Adelaide Strikers collapse to snatch an eight-run win and move within a match of the Big Bash League final.

Set a meagre 152 for victory on Saturday, the Strikers were cruising towards a comfortable victory before Daniel Sams (3-26) and Chris Morris (2-22) instigated the loss of five wickets for 24 runs.

Star batsman Alex Hales top scored with 59 for the Thunder, who finished four points behind Adelaide on the ladder but will now face the Melbourne Stars in a do-or-die challenger clash on Thursday.

The winner of that match will advance to face the Sydney Sixers in the February 8 final at the SCG.

 

HALES GIVES THUNDER HOPE

Usman Khawaja's early exit and the loss of Callum Ferguson inside six overs could have derailed the Thunder before their innings began to take shape.

Hales had other ideas and, like he has done so regularly in the tournament, gave his team crucial quick runs at the top of the order.

The destructive England opener hammered six fours and four sixes to record his fourth half-century in five innings while dominating a 51-run stand with Alex Ross (12).

Arjun Nair (18) and all-rounder Morris (21) made handy contributions lower down the order to build a competitive total, but the Thunder would surely have been bundled out if not for their key man.

 

STRIKERS SQUANDER WINNING POSITION

Phil Salt's departure in the opening over of the chase failed to prevent the Strikers from making a confident start in front of an expectant Adelaide Oval crowd.

Travis Head entered and struck a quickfire 32 before Alex Carey (28) and Jonathan Wells (34) came together and produced what looked to be a match-winning partnership worth 50 runs.

Then, however, came the collapse. Australia international Carey was run out after gambling on a quick single and the promotion of Rashid Khan failed to pay dividends as he looped a catch out to deep square two balls later.

When Morris pinned Matt Short in front for a duck, the Strikers had lost three wickets for two runs and undone their good work.

 

TREMAIN FLAILS BUT THUNDER PREVAIL

Adelaide's implosion was only matched by that of Thunder bowler Chris Tremain, who sent down three wides in a wretched 16-run 18th over that left the door ajar.

Sams made amends, conceding five runs and removing both Michael Neser and Peter Siddle the following over.

Morris then extracted a thin edge from Wells, the Strikers' famed finisher, to all but end the contest at the beginning of the 20th.

Key contributors Sams and Hales combined to let a high ball go to ground but the damage was done as the Thunder kept alive their hopes of a second BBL title.

Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja blew the Hobart Hurricanes attack away before Jonathan Cook struck four times as Sydney Thunder won the Big Bash League Eliminator by 57 runs.

The Hurricanes hit form at the right time to make the play-offs, but they crashed out with a crushing defeat at Blundstone Arena on Thursday.

It will be the Thunder who face Adelaide Strikers in the Knockout clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday after they racked up 197-5 and Hobart were all out for 140 in reply.

In-form batsman Hales, the second-highest run-scorer in the competition, blasted 60 off 37 balls and Khawaja bludgeoned a 34-ball 54 in an onslaught of 103 for the first wicket inside 10 overs.

Hobart never really looked like chasing that down with D'Arcy Short gone for 37 and Matthew Wade just 14, Cook dismissing both openers and finishing with outstanding figures of 4-21.

Chris Morris claimed 3-27 and Daniel Sams, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, 2-24 in an impressive display from Sydney in the field as they eased through to end George Bailey's career.

THUNDER OPENERS MAKE LIGHTNING START

Hales and Khawaja got the Thunder off to a dream start after Callum Ferguson won the toss, setting about Clive Rose, James Faulkner, Scott Boland and Short.

Back-to-back overs from Rose and Boland cost 17 runs apiece, the latter put onto the roof at deep square leg by Hales after Khawaja was the first to a half-century from only 30 balls.

Faulkner struck Khawaja bang in front with a slower ball in the 10th over before Hales also moved to 50 off 30 deliveries, the English opener going on to blast Qais Ahmad for his third six before falling to Boland.

 

ELLIS BRINGS SOME CALM AFTER THE STORM

Ferguson ought to have been run out when he was well set after dispatching Short for two boundaries in as many balls before Alex Ross took a liking to the spin of Rose.

Short held on when Ferguson slapped a Rose full toss to him at deep midwicket as the Thunder lost the momentum somewhat before taking 16 off the penultimate over from Faulkner

Nathan Ellis finished off his excellent spell by going for just six off the last over to record figures of 1-18 from four, but Hales and Khawaja's stand left the Hurricanes facing a huge challenge to stay in the tournament.

 

COOK COMES TO THE BOIL, BAILEY BOWS OUT

Much was resting on the shoulders of Wade and the big-hitting Short, but Cook had the captain caught behind and also saw the back of his fellow opener.

There was no explosive swansong for Bailey, retiring to become an Australia national selector, as he was sent on his way by Morris to leave Hobart with a mountain to climb at 74-4 in the ninth over.

The excellent Cook also removed Simon Milenko and cleaned up Rose in what was an emphatic win for the Thunder.

Chris Morris emerged as the final-over hero after Sydney Thunder preserved their Big Bash League play-off hopes with a tense win over Perth Scorchers on Sunday.

The Thunder needed to triumph to avoid elimination from top-five contention and held their nerve with the bat after being set 96 from 12 overs for victory following a rain delay at Spotless Stadium.

South African Morris clubbed a six and a four in consecutive deliveries to reward Alex Hales' blistering 47 and get the hosts home with two balls to spare, sealing a seven-wicket victory that takes them above the Scorchers and into fourth.

Miserly bowling from Chris Tremain (1-14) and Daniel Sams (1-16) earlier restricted the Scorchers to 99-4 from 15 overs, their total reduced following the hour-long pause in play.

 

BANCROFT BUILDS COMPETITIVE TOTAL

The Scorchers gave themselves plenty of work to do after winning the toss, electing to bat and then slipping to 64-4 in the 12th over of their truncated innings.

They were indebted to Cameron Bancroft for achieving a reasonable score before the rain arrived, the Australia international managing a valuable unbeaten 35 from 25 balls amid scant contributions elsewhere in the top six.

Liam Livingstone stuttered to Perth's next-best score with 20 off 27 as Tremain, Sams and Morris (1-9) kept the total down.

 

HALES HELPS THUNDER THROUGH THE STORM

Following scores of 85 and 63 in the previous two games, England international Hales continued his fine form in a standout performance.

The 31-year-old made light of a difficult wicket as he breezed to 47 from 27 balls before slicing a catch to cover off Fawad Ahmad (1-15).

The ease with which Hales found the boundary - his innings included four fours and two sixes - came in contrast to the other batsman during a low-scoring affair on a difficult wicket.

 

MORRIS SETTLES THUNDER NERVES

Hales' departure led to the loss of three wickets for 16 runs as the Thunder started to let victory slip from their grasp.

Usman Khawaja (22) was caught out of his crease, Jhye Richardson bowled Alex Ross and the Scorchers suddenly became favourites to escape with the points.

Enter all-rounder Morris. After watching Callum Ferguson take three runs off the first two balls of the decisive 12th over from Matt Kelly, the 32-year-old brought a stunning end to the contest.

He struck a huge six over long-on and then pierced a drive through the off-side to snatch a season-saving win for the Thunder just as it looked to have eluded them.

D'Arcy Short claimed a stunning five-wicket haul as Hobart Hurricanes thrashed Sydney Thunder by 57 runs in the Big Bash League to move into the final play-off spot on Friday.

All-rounder Short had never previously claimed four wickets in a Twenty20 match, but he went one better with figures of 5-21 to make up for a duck with the bat.

Captain Matthew Wade (56) and Mac Wright (64) struck half-centuries to get the Hurricanes up to 185-6 at Blundstone Arena.

The Thunder were always struggling after Short got rid of the in-form Alex Hales for 63, and a dismal collapse saw them collapse to 128 all out all out midway through the 18th over.

Victory for Hobart moves them above the Thunder into fifth spot on net run-rate, with both sides having one match of the regular season remaining. Brisbane Heat are one point behind them with two to play.


SKIPPER WADES IN AS D'ARCY FALLS SHORT

It did not seem it would be Short's day on his return to the side when he was dismissed by Arjun Nair (2-19) from the second delivery he faced, but fellow opener Wade and Wright made amends.

A second-wicket partnership of 97 lifted Hobart but was broken in frustrating fashion, Wade, with eight boundaries from 34 balls, caught behind off the excellent Daniels Sams.

The same combination of Sams and wicketkeeper Jay Lenton accounted for Wright, too, although only after he had dished out some further damage.

Sams ended with 4-34, but George Bailey's 29 off 10 helped ensure Hurricanes put an imposing total on the board.


THUNDEROUS HALES STRETCH INSPIRES

Sydney were always struggling to reach their target, but Hales gave them hope in the sixth over, blasting three straight sixes and a four to end to the powerplay on a competitive 55-0.

Hales stuck around for a time, but the boundaries were not so easy to find.

The opener went in the 13th over as Short claimed his first wicket of the evening, leaving Thunder on 100-3 and in need of something special.


SHORT ROARS BACK TO STUN SYDNEY

Instead Short tore through Sydney's middle order. Chris Morris was trapped lbw later in the same over, before Wright had his revenge for Lenton's earlier work with a diving catch.

Short checked Alex Ross' (36) briefly explosive knock, too, and had his five-for three balls later - fittingly seeing the back of Nair.

Thunder ultimately fell short in dismal fashion, consecutive balls seeing Gurinder Sandhu bowled and Liam Bowe ran out by Wright.

Liam Livingstone smashed 78 from 49 balls as Perth Scorchers romped to an eight-wicket win over Sydney Thunder to move above their opponents into fourth in the Big Bash League.

Led by 85 from Livingstone's fellow Englishman Alex Hales, the Thunder had set the hosts 154 to win on Monday.

But a magnificent opening stand of 136 from Livingstone and Josh Inglis (58) ensured the Scorchers made a strong response to losing back-to-back matches against the Melbourne Stars.

The Scorchers are now one point clear of the Thunder, with both teams in contention to reach the playoffs with two matches each left to play.


HALES ON FIRE BUT LACKING SUPPORT

Hales was out for a duck in his last outing against the Sydney Sixers but after the Thunder won the toss and opted to bat, he delivered in this one.

The former England international hit 10 fours and three sixes in his 59-ball outing, although he was lacking support from his team-mates.

Usman Khawaja (11) and captain Callum Ferguson (4) both fell cheaply, before a 48-run stand between Hales and Arjun Nair (11) was ended by Chris Jordan.

Jordan, who is set to join up with England and be replaced by Morne Morkel for the Scorchers, left on a high with an impressive 3-28, including a slower ball to finally get rid of Hales in the final over.

A steady knock from Alex Ross (22 not out) helped the Thunder to close on 153-5, but it proved to not be enough as they fell to a fifth defeat in seven matches.


INGLIS AND LIVINGSTONE DOMINATE

The Scorchers' victory was inspired by their openers, who hit six maximums between them, three coming off deliveries from Liam Bowe (0-25).

Inglis was hit in the helmet by Gurinder Sandhu (1-33) in the fifth over and, after a lengthy delay, made a brilliant response by smashing the next delivery for six over cow corner. 

After racking up 64 runs in the first five overs, Livingstone and Inglis were in complete control and did not look back.

Brendan Doggett had two horrendous drops off Livingstone but he finally held on to one to remove Inglis off the bowling of Sandhu.

Livingstone, who brought up his fifty off 28 balls, was eventually caught by Ross at deep midwicket as he attempted to hit the winning runs, but any doubt over the match outcome had long since been removed.

Captain Mitchell Marsh (two not out) came into do the honours as the Scorchers eased home with 4.3 overs to spare. 

Sydney Thunder's bowlers tore through Sydney Sixers before they won a rain-affected Big Bash League derby match by four runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method on Saturday.

Two interruptions due to adverse weather inside the opening three overs resulted in the match being reduced to 16 overs each, but the Sixers were already in trouble at 6-3.

Daniel Sams claimed figures of 3-14, which included the scalps of Justin Avendano (28) and Ben Dwarshuis (19) – the only Sixers batsmen to reach double figures.

Chris Morris (2-12 from 3.5 overs) removed Jackson Bird and took the bails off to run out Steve O'Keefe for a diamond duck in the final over as Moises Henriques' team were skittled for the second-lowest BBL score of 76.

Usman Khawaja was on 13 when he fell to Tom Curran in the fourth over of the chase, but Callum Ferguson (8 not out) and Sams (5no) ensured the Thunder stayed above the par score by getting to 28-2 when the rain hit again.

The Sixers consequently missed a chance to open up a four-point advantage on the teams chasing second place, with the Thunder now two points back in fourth.

Melbourne Renegades' long wait for a first win of the Big Bash League season finally came to an end on Wednesday.

The Renegades beat Sydney Thunder by 12 runs under the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method in a rain-affected clash in Canberra to end their nine-match losing streak in convincing fashion.

Sam Harper (52 off 38 balls) and Shaun Marsh (47 from 34) starred with the bat as the defending champions posted 172-4, with Mohammad Nabi and captain Dan Christian's late big hitting bolstering the total.

Sydney were behind the rate when the weather closed in, returning with a revised total of 135 off 14 overs and coming up short on 122-7 despite the best efforts of Alex Ross (51 off 27), as Christian proved the Renegades' saviour with the ball.

RENEGADES MAKE A STATEMENT

With such a miserable run of form weighing on them, Melbourne needed to post a challenging target.

Opener Marsh certainly got the memo, his 34-ball knock including six fours and a maximum, while Harper also got on the front foot to boost the holders.

Still, the late cameos of Nabi (11 off 3) and Christian (21 off 12) were key, with the Renegades on a modest 125-3 at the end of the 17th over.

A strong finish saw them put up another 47 runs in the final three overs, Nabi thrashing the last ball for six.

 

ROSS CUTS LOOSE BEFORE CHRISTIAN FIGHTS BACK

The revised target was a tough ask for the Thunder, who initially made precious little headway in pursuit.

That was until Ross thrashed 26 balls of one Nabi over to haul his side back into the contest.

But all-rounder Christian came to the fore in the next over, in which he took two wickets – including that of danger man Ross – for just five runs.

There were no late fireworks as the Thunder, who sit sixth, finished on 122-7.

Haris Rauf took a hat-trick and Glenn Maxwell became Melbourne Stars' record run-scorer as Sydney Thunder were beaten by six wickets at the MCG.

The in-form Stars moved top of the Big Bash League table, level on points with Sydney Sixers with a better net run rate and a game in hand, by securing a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday.

Pakistani paceman Rauf claimed the second Big Bash hat-trick of the day after Rashid Khan took three in three during the Adelaide Strikers' defeat to Sydney Sixers.

The Thunder were restricted to 145-5 after a brilliant final over from Rauf (3-23), Matthew Gilkes top scoring with 41 from 35 balls.

Marcus Stoinis (50) struck a third consecutive half-century, while Maxwell made an unbeaten 59 from just 37 balls to replace Luke Wright as the Stars' leading run-scorer to get his side home with more than two overs to spare.

Defeat for the Thunder was their second in a row and dropped them down a place to fourth on a day in which spinner Chris Green was banned from bowling for three months due to an illegal delivery action.

 

RAPID RAUF ROCKS THUNDER

Rauf has been a revelation for the Stars since being plucked from grade cricket in Hobart as cover for Dale Steyn.

The quick could be returning to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year after he took his tally of wickets to 13 in four matches in dramatic fashion.

Rauf saw the back of Gilkes, who struck two sixes, with the second ball of the last over and Callum Ferguson played on to the next delivery before Daniel Sams was trapped lbw on the hat-trick ball. 

 

SENSATIONAL STOINIS CONTINUES PURPLE PATCH

Stoinis maintained his outstanding form to move over the 300-run mark for the tournament.

The leading run-scorer in the 2019-20 competition had a touch of fortune when he was given not out after being rapped on the pad by Chris Tremain in the third over.

Stoinis took advantage by anchoring the run chase, hitting a six and another four boundaries before holing out off Jonathan Cook, leaving the Stars 103-4 in the 14th. 

 

MAGNIFICENT MAXWELL EASES STARS HOME

Captain Maxwell took only 29 balls to score his first half-century of the tournament.

The all-rounder, who also conceded just 18 runs from three overs, found the rope eight times and launched Tremain for six to keep the Stars on course for victory.

Maxwell was on the deck after trying to clatter Morris and making no contact, but he hit the South Africa bowler for a glorious boundary to finish off the job in the same over.

Sydney Thunder were jolted on Wednesday when spinner Chris Green was suspended from bowling for at least 90 days in Cricket Australia competitions due to an illegal delivery action.

Green was withdrawn from the Thunder team hours before the Big Bash League clash with the Melbourne Stars at the MCG.

Cricket Australia said Green was reported by umpires Nathan Johnstone and Mike Graham-Smith and third umpire Paul Wilson after a BBL match against the Stars at Sydney Showground Stadium on Thursday, January 2.

His off-spin action was tested on Sunday at the National Cricket Centre near Brisbane, and Cricket Australia said results came through on Wednesday and were relayed to Green and the Thunder.

In a media statement, Cricket Australia said: "Green will be unable to bowl for a minimum of 90 days in Cricket Australia-run competitions, effective immediately. He will be permitted to play as a batter should the Thunder or Cricket NSW desire and can also play premier cricket (including bowl) under the supervision and with the consent of Cricket NSW during his suspension.

"After the 90-day suspension has elapsed, Green will be eligible to undergo testing once again with a view to returning to bowling."

As well as his Thunder commitments, Green has signed up for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and is due to head to England to captain the Birmingham Bears in the domestic T20 Blast later this year.

Thunder coach Shane Bond backed Green, saying: "He's an important part of our future and the club will support him through this process."

Tom Banton smashed the second-fastest half-century in Big Bash League history to fire Brisbane Heat to victory over Sydney Thunder by the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method in Monday's rain-affected match.

The weather saw a delayed start and then limited Brisbane to just eight overs in the first innings, but Banton quickly made up for lost time in a 16-run triumph.

The England international needed just 16 balls to reach 50, ending on 56 after seven sixes that helped Heat to an impressive 119-4.

Further rain appeared the only hindrance to a dominant win, and neither the conditions nor Thunder - chasing 77 in a reduced five overs - could effectively intervene.

BANTON BLOWS THUNDER AWAY

Banton started as he meant to go on when the covers came off, launching Daniel Sams over the boundary from the first ball.

And this rapid progress continued alongside fellow opener Chris Lynn, lifting Brisbane to 39 without loss by the end of the two-over powerplay.

But it was a blistering fourth over that stole the show, Banton following up a rare dot ball with five successive maximums to bring up his half-century in sensational style.

The second six in that stretch had been carried over the rope by Brendan Doggett as he desperately tried to check the 21-year-old's thrilling assault.

HEAT HALTED AS RAIN RETURNS

A partnership of 90 was finally ended in the fifth over, as Banton hit a Chris Tremain full toss to Chris Morris on the fence.

That prompted something of a collapse, with Heat only able to add another 29 runs.

Doggett held on impressively to account for Lynn (31), before Sams (2-24) removed Max Bryant and Matt Renshaw.

Thunder's hopes of victory were extremely remote and they were 18-1 after two overs, but Brisbane were dealt a blow when rain fell again with the match still 2.5 overs short of the requisite number of deliveries.

SAMS CARRIES SYDNEY'S HOPES

With Sydney then facing a tough total as play resumed, Callum Ferguson launched towards the boundary but was caught before Alex Hales (21 not out) struck consecutive fours.

An entertaining fourth over saw three boundaries and two wickets, and Thunder's chances were all but over when Sams' (10) six-four start was followed up with a stunning grab out of the air from Ben Laughlin.

They could only reach 61-4, as Ben Cutting saw out the fifth and final over with an array of yorkers.

Melbourne Stars overcame a dramatic late collapse to beat Sydney Thunder by three wickets at the Showground to replace their hosts at the top of the Big Bash League.

The Stars appeared to be coasting to victory as Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin piled on 123 for the second wicket in reply to Thunder's 142-7.

But Larkin hooked the returning Chris Morris (2-24) to Daniel Sams at fine leg to depart for a well-made 65, before Stoinis (58) chipped to mid-on from the final ball of the 17th over.

In the next set of six, left-arm seamer Sams (3-25) had Glenn Maxwell caught behind when trying to steer the ball fine and bowled Ben Dunk with his next delivery.

Melbourne were 133-5, having lost 4-10 off nine balls and, although a Sams bouncer on leg stump being harshly called a wide was punished by Nathan Coulter-Nile crunching the extra delivery down the ground for four, there would be a further twist.

More miserly work from Morris took the game into the final over and Nathan McAndrew followed Sams in putting himself on a hat-trick – removing Coulter-Nile before pinning new man Clint Hinchcliffe lbw.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who earlier took 1-33 from his allocation, held his nerve with the scores level and clipped the hat-trick ball through midwicket for the single required.

The Stars now have eight points at the summit, thanks to four wins and one defeat from their five matches, while the Thunder have seven points from six matches in third, having nudged below Adelaide Strikers on net run rate.


MAXWELL'S DOUBLE BLOW SETS UP STARS

Before that awful shot amid his side's nerve-jangled end to the match, captain Maxwell (2-17) helped to set up Melbourne's victory as his decision to open the bowling paid off.

The Thunder's average opening partnership this season heading into the clash was 40.4, but they found themselves 11-2 and with two of their best batsmen removed.

Off-spinner Maxwell bowled both Alex Hales (0) and Usman Khawaja (1) in the opening three overs and the Thunder were forced to play catch up.
 

RUTHLESS RAUF CONTINUES TO STAR

Haris Rauf (3-24) continued to take his chance for the Stars.

Back in the team, the paceman took his tally to 10 wickets this season while bowling 14 dot balls.

Rauf removed the competition's leading run-scorer this season, Callum Ferguson (19), and the dangerous Alex Ross, who top scored with 40.

LARKIN'S FIRST BBL FIFTY PROVES DECISIVE

The quality of Larkin's strokeplay, on a surface where most batsmen struggled for timing, should not be lost amid the chaotic finish to the match.

While Stoinis was more circumspect, the 29-year-old displayed some wonderful strokeplay during his 45-ball stay, which featured eight fours and a maximum and deservedly earned the man-of-the-match award.

Tom Curran starred with bat and ball as the Sydney Sixers edged out the Sydney Thunder in a thrilling Super Over in the Big Bash on Saturday.

Curran's brilliant 35 off 17 balls enabled the Sixers to reach 149-7 from their 20 overs - matching the Thunder's 149-8 - and send the match into overtime.

The England international initially failed to build on that momentum, falling to Chris Morris from the opening delivery of the Super Over, but took responsibility with some disciplined bowling as the Thunder fell narrowly short of the 17 runs required to win.

Curran restricted Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja to just five from the first four deliveries, leaving the Thunder needing 12 from the final two balls.

Sixers nerves were jangling when Hales launched the first over the ropes but he could only manage a four from the second as his side fell to their first defeat of the season.

That there was such late drama was down almost solely to Curran.

The Sixers looked down and out when he strode to the crease at 110 for five but he dispatched his first three deliveries to the fence, the start of a muscular knock that pushed his team to a position from which they needed 16 from the final over.

And when Curran promptly hammered the next ball from Chris Tremain over the mid-wicket boundary for six to make the equation 10 from five balls, it seemed the great escape was on.

Another Curran boundary meant the Sixers required two from the final ball but they could only manage one as Chris Morris' throw from the deep was accurate and wicketkeeper Matthew Gilkes whipped off the bails to force a tie.

Sixers captain Moises Henriques made 14 of his side's 16 runs in the Super Over after Curran's first-ball dismissal but the England international regained centre stage to deny the Thunder.

Earlier, captains Henriques and the Thunder's Callum Ferguson played starring roles in their respective teams' efforts.

Ferguson made 52 from 42 balls to underpin an innings that was heading for an under-par score at 115-7 while Henriques' 41 off 30 balls gave Curran the platform to tee off.


Impressive Pope offers glimpse to the future

Lloyd Pope may not look like your archetypal cricketer but he has prodigious talent. The flame-haired spinner put the brakes on the Thunder's innings with 3-23 and they never really recovered.

Although Nathan Lyon's spot in Australia's Test and ODI teams is secure, Pope will surely have a role to play when the New South Welshman steps away from international cricket.

An alumnus of Adelaide club Kensington - where a certain Don Bradman once played - he has the pedigree to become a major player long term but also in this year's Big Bash.


Ferguson leads from the front

Ferguson can count himself extremely unfortunate to finish on the losing side after an innings that looked as though it would give his side the win, before Curran's intervention.

Khawaja (16) and Hales (32) had got the Thunder off to a solid start but both failed to go on to make significant contributions.

And when Pope ran through the middle order, Ferguson had to combine attack and caution to steer his team to 149 before being run out from the final ball of the innings.

Adelaide Strikers' first Big Bash League match of the season against Sydney Thunder was abandoned due to smoke at Manuka Oval on Saturday.

Jono Wells blasted 55 off 32 balls and captain Alex Carey made 45 as the Strikers posted 161-5 from their 20 overs.

The Thunder, top of the table with two wins out of two, were 40-1 from 4.1 overs in reply when the players were taken off the field due to poor air quality as a result of bushfires.

They were unable to return on safety grounds following a thorough assessment of conditions, so both sides had to settle for a point.

 

 

SAMS THE MAN

Daniel Sams claimed two wickets in victories over both Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades and added another couple to his tally, removing both openers.

He had BBL debutant Phil Salt caught by Arjun Nair at short fine leg without scoring in the first over, which was a wicket maiden.

The all-rounder also cleaned up Jake Weatherald with a clever slower ball, reducing the Strikers to 68-3 in the 11th over.

 

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELLS

The Strikers may have had concerns that they would fall short of a competitive total when Carey holed out off Chris Morris five short of a half-century.

Adil Rashid was dismissed for a golden duck to leave the 2017-18 champions five down, but a great knock from Wells got them up to what was probably a par total.

He struck two boundaries off the penultimate over from the otherwise economical Sams and scooped Morris for four to reach his 50 off only 28 balls, clearing the ropes twice in an entertaining innings.   

 

STANLAKE STRIKES, FERGUSON FRUSTRATED

Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales put on 99 for the first wicket in a defeat of defending champions the Renegades on Thursday, but the Australia left-hander fell in the first over two days later.

Billy Stanlake dismissed Khawaja without scoring, drawing an edge with a wide delivery, with Cameron White juggling to somehow hold onto a catch at first slip with Carey diving in front of him.

Captain Callum Ferguson was looking ominous on 27 and Hales had 11 to his name when play was halted.

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