Siddle stars as Strikers tame Thunder
ADELAIDE remains invincible on New Year's Eve after Peter Siddle returned from Test duty to shut down Sydney Thunder and jump-start the Strikers' title defence.
Chasing 176, Siddle removed dangerous trio Jos Buttler (23), Joe Root (18) and top scorer Callum Ferguson (47) to ensure Adelaide recorded a sixth straight NYE win. Adelaide snapped a two match losing sequence in cool fashion with Colin Ingram's 75 pivotal to a 20-run triumph.
The Thunder (6-155) needed 48 runs off 24 balls then 29 off six but had a tough ask with Siddle (3/20), grief stricken Rashid Khan (2/34) and Ben Laughlin holding overs in reserve. Shane Watson (28, 25) fell to a superb catch combo between Jake Weatherald and Jake Lehmann off Michael Neser which rocked the visitors.
A fit and firing Ferguson would be an asset in a struggling Australian Test line-up, impressing in his hometown.
Rashid Khan is the best bloke in cricket for a reason. At just 20, the leg-spin maestro has established the Rashid Khan Foundation to help impoverished children in war torn Afghanistan
Rashid is incredibly giving of his time and knowledge but fronting inside a day after the loss of his father was another, incredibly selfless act. A message from his mother saying his father would have wanted his to play gave Rashid the strength and purpose to face the Thunder. The visitors were content to sit on the game's best T20 bowler, causing pressure to score off Rashid's teammates.
There was no trademark celebration for the wickets of Jason Sangha and Daniel Sams given the circumstances but "Rash" had 41,987 Strikers fans roaring for him.
CATCHES WIN MATCHES
Shane Watson was finding his sweet spot better than ever before a perfectly executed tag-team dismissal involving Weatherald and Lehmann. Watson figured in a 35-run stand with Callum Ferguson over before slamming a Neser full toss to the western stand boundary in the 10th over. Weatherald timed his run to take a catch and fling the ball to Lehmann before touching the ground.
If Adelaide's championship season was Alex Carey's international launch pad then BBL 08 is cementing the keeper-batsman as a class above, ranked in the top four run scorers (145).
Carey's crisp stroke play and low risk placement has been a feature of a struggling Strikers batting unit. The six Carey blasted over Fawad Ahmed's head to register 50 off 28 balls and reverse sweep boundary off Arjun Nair was the mark of a man in total control.
Carey (59, 40 balls) would have wanted a ton but represents the future of Australian cricket as limited overs vice-captain and Test keeper in waiting. The Strikers will seriously miss Carey when on one-day duty against India in mid-January, but he will be a key part of any Australian success against the tourists then 2019 World Cup in England.
Weatherald and Carey have been on the cusp of recreating their irresistible opening stands of the Strikers' BBL 07 title win but have just one 50-run stand this tournament. There is so much pressure on the Strikers top three but skipper Colin Ingram ensured the buck stopped with him on New Year's Eve.
Ingram entered the contest with scores of 1, 21, 2 and desperate to show why Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting spent $1.3 million on the South African No.3 batsman. The 'Bulldozer' put on 75 for the second wicket with Carey before accelerating to 75 off 43 balls.
Dropped on 44 by Jason Sangha off Chris Green, Ingram declared he would "have a crack" and launched three sixes off the 15th and next over by leg-spinner Jono Cook. Ingram cleared the long boundary showing all the power gained from smashing sledge hammers on tyres to build up his bulging forearms.
Thunder skipper Shane Watson responded proactively to this attack, conceding 106 off 10 overs, swinging his bowlers around to restrict Adelaide to 4-174.
Chris Green is a travelling T20 specialist and illustrated his skillset with a fourth over that cost just one run. Tall off-spinner Green was unlucky not to have better figures with Ingram dropped by Sangha. The Strikers were looking at a 200 total until Green's intervention, using a great mix of off-spin yorkers that achieved 10 dot balls.
Daniel Sams is no household name but excelled against the hosts, taking 2/24 for the Thunder.