Thunder finals charge in jeopardy after costly defeat
DENIED one extra point after their failed appeal against a power failure, the Sydney Thunder lost two more on Tuesday night to leave their Big Bash playoff hopes teetering on the edge.
Chasing 153 for victory after restricting the Melbourne Renegades to 9-152, the Thunder lost by 12 runs after finishing on 5-140 at Spotless Stadium.
Callum Ferguson (52) and teenager Jason Sangha (54 not out) both posted half-centuries but the Thunder just couldn't manufacture enough boundaries to reach their target.
They remain in fourth place on the ladder but only by a solitary point with four games remaining after Cricket Australia threw out their appeal to be given both points for last week's abandoned match against the Brisbane Heat.
BACK TO FORM
Australia's struggling ODI skipper Aaron Finch posted his highest score of the summer at the perfect time for the Renegades.
Finch started off slowly, taking 17 deliveries to reach 14, before opening up his arms and slogging Arjun Nair out of the ground for six, forcing the umpires to call for a replacement ball.
Finch cleared the rope another three times and also hit two fours in making 54 off just 38 balls in a welcome return to form after making a total of just 26 in the ODI series loss to India.
For a team that's sitting second, the Renegades have still got plenty of things to work out, starting with who should open the innings.
In 11 matches this season, they've used 10 different combinations and they might want to try a 12th after Tuesday night's partnership between Finch and Cameron Boyle.
The pair lasted just two balls together and didn't produce a single run when Boyle went for a duck.
Maybe the Renegades should reconsider veteran all-rounder Cameron White. He had a crack at opening earlier in the season when he was out of touch but might be worth another chance after smashing a season best 40 at a healthy run rate.
After making 100 in his last innings and 68 before that, Shane Watson was the Thunder's obvious trump card but when he went for one, the Thunder didn't have anyone capable of hitting sixes to keep the scoreboard ticking along.
While the Renegades cleared the ropes six times, the Thunder only managed it once, from Sangha, who made his unbeaten half century at a tick better than a run a ball when quicker runs were needed.
Watson has always worn his heart on his sleeve and couldn't hide his disappointment, to the point that he kept his pads on for more than an hour after his dismissal.
There was an omen even before the match began when the woman chosen to conduct the bat flip lost control of the willow and tossed it into a bank of cameraman and photographers.
The Thunder won the flip but surprisingly opted to field first even though every game they had won this year had been when they batted first.
Perhaps more ominously, the team batting first has won the last eight games at Spotless Stadium.