The Adelaide Strikers have been utterly embarrassed at the MCG, with the Melbourne Stars cruising towards a thumping nine-wicket victory on Thursday evening.
After the visitors were rolled for 108 in the first innings, the Stars chased the measly target with 33 balls to spare to keep their Big Bash League campaign alive.
The Strikers lost 5-23 in an tumultuous late collapse, with Stars paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile claiming 3-17 in a damaging four-over spell.
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In response, Stars opener Tom Rogers scored his maiden Big Bash half-century while none of the Strikers bowlers mustered a wicket.
Stars captain Adam Zampa won the toss and elected to field first, with Strikers opener Matt Short smacking the first delivery from England seamer Luke Wood over deep fine leg for a six.
Stars v Strikers: Match Highlights | 03:56
It marked the third time in Big Bash League history the first ball of a match had been slapped over the boundary rope.
“That is absolute art,” Australian T20 captain Aaron Finch said on Fox Cricket commentary as Short plundered another six over mid wicket, accumulating 20 runs in the opening over.
However, Short’s cameo came to an end a few minutes later, caught at deep square leg for 20 (9), falling victim to Liam Hatcher.
Chris Lynn, the competition’s leading run-scorer, departed shortly after for 1 (4), caught at mid-off after trying to attack Hatcher down the ground.
MATCH CENTRE: Stars vs Strikers teams, scorecards, videos, updates
Strikers opener Ryan Gibson scratched his way towards 10 (18) before misjudging a Zampa delivery that crashed into his middle stump.
Thomas Kelly was the next to depart, bettered by Coulter-Nile and returning to the sheds for 6 (10) to leave the Strikers reeling at 4-56.
In the 14th over, Strikers wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen attempted to swat Wood through mid-wicket, only managing to edge the ball into his chin.
“That’s going to sting,” former Test batter Michael Hussey said on Fox Cricket.
“It’s hit the bottom of the grill, but it looked to have hit a fair bit of chin.”
Nielsen and Adam Hose combined for a 29-run partnership before Coulter-Nile’s game-changing double blow in 15th over — Beau Webster claimed a diving catch in the covers to dismiss Hose before Ben Manenti departing for a golden duck following a review for caught behind .
Amid the carnage, Nielsen raced towards 40 (33) before missing a sweep shot against Zampa, clean bowled in the 17th over.
The Strikers’ pitiful batting performance ended with a Webster run-out, ensuring the visitors finished with their third-lowest score when batting first in BBL history.
The run chase started in explosive fashion, with Stars openers Joe Clarke and Tom Rogers smacking 40 runs from the opening four overs, the side’s second best Powerplay of their summer.
Clarke left the commentators speechless after nailing a reverse ramp against Strikers paceman Wes Agar that flew over the wicketkeeper’s head for six.
“That is just ridiculous,” Hussey said.
Finch continued: “The timing and skill of that shot is just unbelievable.”
The Strikers’ woes continued when Lynn dropped a tough chance in the fourth over — Clarke rubbed jumped into the wounds by slapping the next delivery for six.
The opening partnership was finally broken when Gibson nailed a run out from mid-off in the 10th over, finding Clarke inches short of making his ground at the non-striker’s end, gone for 35 (28).
But it was too little, too late for the Strikers, with Rogers guiding the Stars home with an unbeaten 51 (45).
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Strikers captain Peter Siddle returned from injury for Thursday evening’s Big Bash match against the Stars. The veteran seamer, who was the competition’s leading wicket-taker last season, missed recent fixtures against the Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Renegades with a lower back complaint.
However, the Strikers were without New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who suffered a low-grade hamstring strain during Tuesday’s match at Adelaide Oval.
“Colin has shown glimpses and played beautifully last night to take us over 200, so that’s certainly a little bit of a gap for these next two games,” Strikers assistant coach Johan Botha said.
“We’re going to miss him, we might have to go an extra bowler or a blink light, but that will be for discussion for the next 24 hours.”
Meanwhile, Stars all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is still recovering from a hamstring strain, and didn’t feature in Thursday’s match.
Joe Clarke (wk), Tom Rogers, Hilton Cartwright, Beau Webster, Nick Larkin, James Seymour, Clint Hinchliffe, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Luke Wood, Liam Hatcher, Adam Zampa (c)
Adelaide Strikers XI
Matt Short, Ryan Gibson, Chris Lynn, Adam Hose, Thomas Kelly, Harry Nielsen (wk), Ben Manenti, Cameron Boyce, Wes Agar, Henry Thornton, Peter Siddle (c)