The match in a tweet: Thunder topple Scorchers by a solitary run to claim much-needed #BBL|08 win as Fawad and Buttler fire
The score: Sydney Thunder 6-142 (Buttler 55, Ferguson 42; Agar 2-27) defeated Perth Scorchers 5-141 (Turner 60no, Bosisto 23no; Ahmed 2-22)
The hero: Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed enjoyed a memorable night at Spotless Stadium, firing with ball and in the field to help Sydney Thunder claim a crucial win. He was typically tidy with the ball, removing Michael Klinger and Ashton Agar to grab 2-22 from four overs, his most economical return from five matches in BBL|08 so far. But while the wickets were important, the highlight was Fawad’s direct-hit run-out of Hilton Cartwright, which reduced the Scorchers to 5-54. Fawad had a direct role in dismissing three of Perth’s top-six batsmen as the Thunder snapped a two-game losing run.
The supporting cast: On a slow wicket not conducive to free-flowing stroke play, the Thunder’s Jos Buttler showed his class by punching out another half-century, his third of this season’s BBL from five innings. Buttler played some extraordinary shots in his 54-ball 55 and held the Thunder’s innings together after they elected to bat first. The Englishman is the competition’s leading run-scorer with 250 at 50 and boasts a strike rate of 140.44. Buttler has posted scores of 20, 63, 89, 23 and 55 at the top of the order and has been a model of consistency. This wasn’t his most fluent innings, but its value was enormous. He was also removed in remarkable fashion as he tried a reverse sweep a Jhye Richardson delivery but managed to collect his own stumps to be out hit wicket. If skipper Shane Watson rediscovers his best form, the Thunder could go deep in BBL|08. While Fawad starred, the Thunder have a triple spin threat with the ball, with fellow slow bowlers Jono Cook (1-13 from four over) and Chris Green (1-32 from four) both impressive, while Callum Ferguson also impressed with a fine 42.
The consolation act: Scorchers captain Ashton Turner – a proven performer in run chases – almost steered his team to a win against all odds after finishing 60 not out from 36 balls, including five fours and a six in a superb knock under pressure. He reached his half-century in the last over of the innings with his team needing 20 from the final six balls of the match – a target they fell agonisingly short of achieving. The Scorchers looked certain losers at 5-54 after 11.1 overs before Turner and Will Bosisto (23 not out) produced an unbroken 87-run stand for the sixth wicket. So close, yet so far.
The big moments: Spinners Fawad and Cook landed two massive blows for the Thunder in five balls when they trapped key men Michael Klinger and Cameron Bancroft lbw within five balls midway through the innings. The Scorchers had reached 1-50 from 8.4 overs, were suddenly reduced to 3-51 and never quite recovered.
The battle: The Scorchers are the most successful team in the history of the BBL, winning three trophies and qualifying for five finals in the first seven editions of the tournament. But they face a battle to add to their decorated history this summer after making a 1-4 start. They will be glad for the extended 14-match tournament.
The shot: Buttler’s ramp shot in the fifth over deserves another look. After Jason Behrendorff sent a delivery down the leg side, he moved inside the line and somehow hit the ball over the rope at fine leg. It was Buttler’s 10th maximum of the season - the most in the competition, with Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn and Hobart Hurricanes’ D’Arcy Short with eight apiece.
The catch I: Agar had every reason to feel unlucky after Watson held on to this beauty. You won’t see a better catch in the slips.
The catch II: It’s never easy off your own bowling, but Behrendorff took this superb catch to remove Thunder captain and dangerman Watson.
The slump: While Buttler is firing on all cylinders, England Test captain Joe Root is yet to reach 20 in five BBL innings in what has been a frustrating run for the star right-hander. Root was bowled for five tonight after attempting to sweep an Ashton Agar ball which bounced off his front pad and on to the stumps.
The blow: We are all glad the Thunder’s young gun Jason Sangha was OK after he was struck in the next by a short ball from Richardson.
The next stops: The Thunder will next tackle Melbourne Stars at Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium on Saturday, while the Scorchers will host winless Brisbane Heat in the second game of a double-header.