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BBL 7, Match 1, Review: Watson powers Sydney Thunder to a thunderous win

Sydney Thunder secured a 5-wicket win over the local rivals Sydney Sixers in a nail-biting contest.

Shane Watson
Shane Watson of the Thunder celebrates his half-century. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The 7th edition of BBL got underway today at the Sydney Showground Stadium and the spectators were treated with an absolute thriller of a game on the very first day of the tournament as Sydney Thunder secured a 5-wicket win over the local rivals Sydney Sixers in a nail-biting contest.

With one needed off the last ball, the all-rounder Arjun Nair, who had earlier made a vital contribution with his off-spin bowling, struck it over the cover point region and stole a quick single to drag the Thunder over the line.

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Winning the toss and bowling first, Thunder got off to a great start with Mitchell McLenaghan knocking over the English opener Jason Roy in the very first over of his BBL career, but the boundaries started leaking after that as Daniel Hughes and Nic Maddinson got into their act and got the Sixers’ score past 50 inside the powerplay.

However as the spinners were introduced into the attack, it all turned ugly for the Thunder as not only the flow of run was obstructed, but the wickets fell as well with the leggie Fawad Ahmed removing both Hughes and Maddinson in quick succession.

Nair, from the other end, bowled with good guile and speeds too and complemented Fawad extremely well as he chipped in with a couple of important wickets of Moises Henriques and Johan Botha. Sam Billings fought alone for the Sixers through the middle overs as he played some breath-taking switch hits and dabs to thoroughly entertain the spectators present at the ground. Peter Nevill and Steve O’Keefe also contributed with handy cameos as the Sixers managed to reach a respectable total of 149 which was round about par with the surface being two-paced.

Just like the Sixers, the Thunder also lost their first wicket early as Jos Buttler was deceived by a wonderfully disguised slower delivery from Daniel Sams and the ball ballooned in the air off the leading edge for the bowler himself to take an easy return catch.

Shane Watson came in at no. 3 and he was at his explosive best straightaway. The pulls and cuts flew off the bat of the former Australian vice-captain as he got regular boundaries to keep the required run-rate in check. He had a 75-run partnership with Kurtis Patterson for the second wicket which was again broken by Sams who came for his second spell and cleaned up Patterson on another slower delivery to bring the Sixers back into the game.

Watson was still getting the big shots away every now and again, but the runs absolutely dried up from the other end as the Sixers bowlers turned the screws on the new batsmen coming in. Sams delivered a vital blow on the last ball of the 18th over as he dismissed Watson at the score of 77 with the Thunder still 24 runs away from the target.

A good penultimate over thereafter boiled down the equation to 15 off 6 balls and the game looked like tilting in the favour of the Sixers, but young Nair kept his nerves and hit two fours off the first two balls of the 20th over to change the complexion of the game altogether.

Brief Scores:

Sydney Sixers: 149/9 in 20 overs (Sam Billings 32, Daniel Hughes 29, Fawad Ahmed 11/2 in 4 overs)

Sydney Thunder: 150/5 in 20 overs (Shane Watson 77, Kurtis Patterson 29, Daniel Sams 14/4 in 4 overs)

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