The match in a tweet: Stoinis, Maxwell tune up for Australia ODI duties as Stars smash the Thunder on the Gold Coast #BBL|08
The score: Sydney Thunder 8-135 (Sams 42; Boland 2-28, Stoinis 2-29) lost to Melbourne Stars 2-137 (Larkin 41no, Maxwell 41no, Stoinis 34) by eight wickets with 16 balls remaining
The hero: Marcus Stoinis again showed his class at the top of the order for Melbourne Stars, hitting 34 from 22 balls highlighted by six boundaries. While he departed in the seventh over against Sydney Thunder at Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium, he had helped lay the foundations for victory, with the Stars needing a run a ball to claim the win when he was dismissed. Stoinis also shone with the ball, grabbing the key wickets of Joe Root and Daniel Sams and returned 2-29 from four overs. The allrounder was promoted to opener for the New Year’s Day clash against Melbourne Renegades and crunched an unbeaten 78, but unfortunately for the Stars he will be unavailable for at least their next three matches as he joins Australia’s ODI squad.
The supporting cast: Skipper Glenn Maxwell and Nick Larkin combined to steer the Stars to victory after the loss of Stoinis. The pair produced an unbeaten 80-run stand from 64 balls, with both finishing 41 not out after Maxwell belted a six to seal victory. The pair played to the situation perfectly and were not solely focused on hitting boundaries (they hit two fours and three sixes between them) in a composed display. Scott Boland (2-28) grabbed the significant wickets of dangermen Jos Butter and Callum Ferguson in consecutive balls, while Dwayne Bravo (1-18), Adam Zampa (1-22) and Liam Plunkett (1-23) all kept things tight as the Thunder were restricted to 8-135.
The consolation act: The Thunder desperately needed a spark when Daniel Sams arrived at the crease with the visiting side wobbling at 4-70. The big-hitting Sams produced a knock of 42 from 25, including four sixes, in his best performance with the bat of BBL|08. While the rest of his teammates struggled against the disciplined Stars, Sams was the only Thunder batsman to clear the fence. The 26-year-old also has nine wickets to his name, underlining his enormous value.
The big moment: It came early in the match but was decisive in the outcome. Englishman Buttler has been a superb performer for the Thunder this summer and has looked a class above his opposition, posting three half-centuries. But he was dismissed by Boland for just 18 – his lowest score of BBL|08 – as the Thunder’s top order crumbled against some good bowling on a slow pitch. Buttler and England Test captain Root will make one more appearance for the Thunder before turning their attention to international duties against the West Indies.
The outs: While the Stars improved their record to 3-2 after last season’s wooden-spoon finish, things will get a lot tougher from here after they were hardest hit by the announcement of Australia’s ODI squad for the coming series against India. Guns Maxwell, Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Zampa will miss at least the next three matches, while Nepalese leggie Sandeep Lamichhane has already departed and been replaced by England quick Plunkett. In a plus for the Stars, Nic Maddinson is edging closer to a return after suffering a fractured arm while playing Sheffield Shield for Victoria last month.
The stat: The Stars’ victory snapped a run of five consecutive BBL losses against the Thunder.
The next stops: The Thunder will next take on Brisbane Heat at Spotless Stadium on Tuesday, while the Stars will play Perth Scorchers at the MCG on Wednesday.