Sydney Thunder claim first Big Bash League title in epic decider against Stars
The Sydney Thunder have claimed their first Big Bash League title after toppling the Melbourne Stars by three wickets in an epic season decider at the MCG.
Set 177 to win in front of 47,672, the Thunder clinched victory with two balls to spare after Ben Rohrer belted Dan Worrall back down the ground for six as his jubilant teammates stormed the field.
It was the perfect farewell for Thunder captain Mike Hussey, who took over as captain two seasons ago with the team on the bottom of the ladder.
In the first four seasons of the BBL the Thunder won just five matches. In BBL05 they claimed six victories – but this was undoubtedly the most important of their existence.
After England star Kevin Pietersen thrilled the home crowd in his knock of 74 from 39 balls with five sixes and four boundaries, Usman Khawaja – arguably the most in-form batsman in Australia at the moment – turned the final on its head.
He smashed 70 from 40 balls before he was dismissed for just the second time in the series slashing at a full toss by Stars captain David Hussey to Worrall.
Khawaja finished with 345 runs from his four innings at the remarkable average of 172 with 62 against the Melbourne Renegades his lowest score.
Khawaja and Kallis (28 off 27 balls) got the Thunder away to a flying start with an 86-run opening stand in the first nine overs.
But Kallis was clearly restricted by a groin injury that sidelined him for their previous two games.
Cameos by Mike Hussey (18), Andre Russell (10) and Aiden Blizzard (16 from six balls) edged the Thunder close to victory before Rohrer (13 not out) finished it off in style.
Marcus Stoinis claimed 3-30 from his four overs for the Stars and Adam Zampa’s leg-spinners netted him 2-32.
Earlier, the Stars looked on track for a possible total of around 200 mid-way through their innings with Pietersen and captain David Hussey in full flight.
But the brakes were put on when they lost Pietersen, Hussey (21 off 14 balls), and Rob Quiney (2) in quick succession.
Evan Gulbis (16 off 11) and Adam Zampa (15 off 10) added 32 in three overs. But the Stars lost wickets on the final three balls of their innings to finish on 9-176.
Shane Watson was the best of the Thunder bowlers with 2-17 from three overs while young spinner Chris Green claimed 2-37 from four overs – including the big scalp of Pietersen caught and bowled.
Pietersen finished the Stars’ leading runscorer for BBL05 with 323 at a strike rate of 159.