The Hobart Hurricanes have fallen to defeat at the hands of the Adelaide Strikers in hazy conditions at Blundstone Arena. Set a challenging target of 163 the ‘canes fell behind the required run rate early on in the chase and never really recovered. The defeat knocks the Hurricanes out of the top four, however a win in the final game against the Heat will still be enough to secure a finals berth.
The Strikers won the toss and elected to bat but they might have regretted that call when Xavier Doherty struck in the first over of the game. Doherty had the dangerous Tim Ludeman caught at square leg attempting to sweep with Ben Laughlin bizarrely almost copping the openers flying bat in the process of securing the catch.
The Strikers promoted Kieron Pollard up the order to try and force the issue early and he showed his raw hitting power when a leading edge flew for six, but Evan Gulbis clean bowled him the next over to make it 2-20 after 2.5.
Callum Ferguson and Michael Klinger then steadied for the Strikers, finding the boundary seemingly at will and combining for a 59 run stand from just 43 balls before a moment of magic from Owais Shah brought it to an end. The Hurricanes import produced a fine diving stop before throwing the ball into the gloves of Tim Paine who took the bails to have a diving Ferguson caught short of his ground for 32 (23).
The run out stalled momentum for a short time as Doherty and Laughlin dried up the runs to leave the game delicately poised at 3-91 after 13 overs. Michael Klinger was beginning to look ominous and he found a useful partner in Nathan Reardon, who picked up where Ferguson left off. His knock of 29* (23) combined well with Klinger for a partnership of 70 runs stand from 9.
The Hurricanes would not break the partnership till the final over when Scott Styris had Reardon caught on the fence by Laughlin, his second catch of the evening. Johan Botha finished the Strikers innings in style by smashing three consecutive fours to help his side to the impressive total of 4-162. Klinger would end up carrying his bat, finishing 71* (61) in a man of the match performance.
In reply the Hurricanes started slowly, with veteran spinner Bradley Young and speed demon Shaun Tait proving hard to get away. Tait was bowling with some serious heat and he had his former teammate Aiden Blizzard out in the second over of the game for a duck when he mistimed a drive to cover.
With the score at 1-11 after three overs, the Hurricanes two leading run scorers, Tim Paine and Ricky Ponting set about getting the innings back on track. They took 13 from Kane Richardson’s first over to advance the score to 0-38 after six overs before Tim Paine played the shot of the night, dancing down the wicket to hit Johan Botha back over his head as the score moved to 1-53 after 8.
The introduction of leg spinner Cameron Boyce would halt the Hurricanes momentum and spin the game back in the Strikers favour. First he had Ponting caught at cover for 26, then in his next over he had Paine caught at long off for 33 before Kane Richardson provided the highlight of the night by taking one of the great catches seen in domestic cricket to remove Travis Birt for 1 and give Boyce figures of 3-5 after 2 overs.
It was a hole from which the Hurricanes could not dig themselves out of, as the growing required run rate forced risky shots which brought about more wickets. Shah (9), Bailey (17), Styris (1) and Gulbis (2) all failed to provide the miracle innings required and only some late hitting from Xavier Doherty 15* and Ben Laughlin 8* helped the ‘canes limp to 8-124. Tellingly their partnership of 23 was the second best of the innings.
Whilst hopes of a home final are now evaporated, the Hurricanes final home game of the roster will be a virtual final, with a win assuring a top 4 spot and a finals berth. That game is against the Heat next Saturday night at Blundstone Arena. Having beaten the Heat in the opening game of the tournament, confidence will be high that the boys can rebound with a victory and secure a semi-final berth.