Adelaide Strikers have absorbed an Alex Hales hurricane to restrict Sydney Thunder to 7-151 in their KFC BBL Knockout at Adelaide Oval.
Swashbuckling Englishman Hales stroked 59 off 35 balls but the Strikers broke through with regularity at the other end after winning the toss and sending the Thunder in to bat on Saturday.
The Strikers require a gettable 7.60 runs per over to book a berth in Thursday’s Challenger against Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
The winner of that match will tackle Sydney Sixers in the competition’s finale at the SCG next Saturday.
The home side got off to a solid if fortuitous start when Usman Khawaja (13) dragged on an attempted pull shot off Michael Neser and captain Callum Ferguson (1) was unluckily adjudged lbw to Peter Siddle (2-21), with replays confirming it was going over the stumps.
Hard-hitting Hales, the tournament’s second-leading scorer behind Marcus Stoinis and the star of the Thunder’s 57-run elimination of Hobart last Thursday, was scratchy early before blossoming.
He clubbed four sixes and collected his fourth half-century from his past five starts before miscuing Rashid Khan to Siddle at backward point.
The Thunder lost their grip on the contest after Hales’ exit.
Alex Ross (12) holed out to Jon Wells at deep mid-wicket from Adelaide captain Travis Head’s first delivery and Arjun Nair (18) was unfortunately run out at the non-strikers’ end after Chris Morris’s firm straight drive ricocheted off Siddle’s heel and onto the stumps.
Siddle, the Strikers’ best bowler, yorked Daniel Sams (10) in the final over to ensure momentum was with the home side.
Strikers XI: Philip Salt, Jake Weatherald, Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (wk), Jonathan Wells, Matt Short, Michael Neser, Rashid Khan, Peter Siddle, Wes Agar, Billy Stanlake
Thunder XI: Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson (c), Alex Ross, Arjun Nair, Chris Morris, Daniel Sams, Jay Lenton (wk), Chris Tremain, Jono Cook, Brendan Doggett