No changes to 13-player squad for Knockout Final on Saturday night
Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond described the performance his team produced to win the KFC Big Bash League Elimination Final against the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena as the effort he’s been wanting all summer.
Thunder defeated the Hurricanes by 57 runs to progress to Saturday’s Knockout Final against the Strikers in Adelaide on the back of a 103-run opening stand between Alex Hales (who scored 60 off 37 deliveries) and Usman Khawaja (54 off 34). Their batting provided the foundation for Thunder to finish its 20-overs at 5/197.
Bond’s bowling attack then applied plenty of pressure to dismiss the home team for 140 with nine balls to spare. While Chris Morris performed strongly to take 3/27, and Daniel Sams – the BKT Golden Arm cap holder – extended his season’s tally to an unprecedented 27 wickets courtesy of his 2/24, leg-spinner Jonathan Cook sealed the Player of the Match honours with his impressive 4/21.
“We finally put together a complete performance,” said Bond. “You want to do it in the critical games, and to produce it in the first final is awesome.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going to Adelaide. While it’s going to be tough, we know if we can repeat something like [Hobart] it’ll be brilliant.”
Bond added that he was pleased the theme that was discussed during Thunder’s batters meeting – to carry the momentum through the innings – was followed against the Hurricanes.
“To a man everyone was exceptional,” he enthused. “Everyone scored over a run a ball. Alex Hales continued his amazing form; Usman Khawaja showed what he can do… Callum Ferguson (33 off 22); Alex Ross (21 off 13) and Chris Morris (14 off nine) produced what we knew was a match-winning score.”
Bond was as equally enthusiastic about the manner in which his bowlers followed what he revealed was a simple plan designed to quell Hobart’s chances of threatening to run down the score.
“All of our bowlers were great,” said Bond. “Jono Cook was so consistent; I’m really delighted for him. While Morris is warming up at the right time – and that’s really great – I thought [wicket keeper] Jay Lenton’s performance behind the stumps was bloody fantastic.
“It wasn’t easy because while the ball was bouncing in front of him, he took catches. It was an excellent effort.”
Thunder head to Adelaide to contest the Knockout Final having drawn with the Strikers – after their match in Canberra was abandoned due to smoke from the bushfires that surrounded the nation’s capital when Bond’s men needed to only face four more balls to win the game – before winning the return encounter by three runs.
“We’ll be taking another close look at the Strikers,” said Bond. “They’ll have a change of personnel with Travis Head and Michael Neser back in the team, so we’ll do our intelligence around them.
“We’ve played well against Adelaide on our two previous occasions and it’s important that we turn up on what’ll be an awesome occasion – and a tough match – played in front of a big crowd.
“If we can replicate [in Saturday’s Knockout Final] what we did against the Hurricanes in Hobart, we’ll have every reason to feel confident.”
Thunder squad vs Strikers on Saturday 1 February
Callum Ferguson (C) (12)
Liam Bowe (27)
Jonathan Cook (50)
Brendan Doggett (35)
Alex Hales (6)
Usman Khawaja (18)
Jay Lenton (70)
Nathan McAndrew (44)
Chris Morris (24)
Arjun Nair (7)
Alex Ross (49)
Daniel Sams (60)
Chris Tremain (20)