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Short Shines Yet Again As High-Flying Hurricanes Maul Melbourne Stars
The Hurricanes have stormed back onto the winners list by mauling the Melbourne Stars away at the MCG by 59 runs, to move even further clear atop the BBL Ladder with six wins from seven matches.
The Stars collapsed to be all out for 126 in the 18th over, chasing a mammoth 186 for victory as set by the Hurricanes and opener D’Arcy Short, who made more than half the total runs himself.
A controversial umpire’s ruling of four leg byes – which appeared in slow-mo TV replays to come off the bat – actually left the superstar Hurricanes batsman stranded on 96 not-out from just 57 balls – four runs short of being BBL|08’s first centurion.
It still left Short with this Big Bash season’s highest innings score, as he and fellow opening batsman and skipper Matthew Wade built yet another powerful innings platform at the crease, through the Power Play and well beyond as the Hurricanes amassed 2-185 after their 20 overs against the Melbourne Stars.
The leading run-scorer for the season with 355 at 59.16, Short blasted four sixes and eight fours in a typically entertaining showing.
Dumped from Australia's ODI side for the series against India, the 28-year-old is a strong chance to force his way back into calculations ahead of the World Cup.
"It was the umpire's decision (the four leg byes). I can't get angry at him for it," Short said.
"But it was good to bounce back after a loss and get another convincing win."
Earlier, the Melbourne Stars won the toss and elected to bowl on their home deck at the MCG, naming leg-spinner Tom O'Connell to make his BBL debut.
O'Connell was added in place of paceman Scott Boland, as the seventh-placed Stars looked to turn things around after two straight losses.
In fairness, the Stars were missing their 'big guns' in Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa to Australia's ODI duties against India.
And they were up against the ladder-leading Hurricanes, who also defeated them back on Christmas Eve at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena by six wickets.
The Hurricanes, who were two points clear at the top of the ladder heading into the clash, also made one change adding Jake Doran at first drop in place of veteran batsman Alex Doolan.
Tonight’s Melbourne showdown was actually a strong Tasmanian affair with many Tasmanian Tigers in the Hobart Hurricanes line-up plus former or current Tigers and Hurricanes Ben Dunk, Evan Gulbis and Jackson Bird sporting the green for the Stars.
The Stars and especially Bird playing only his second game for Melbourne, bowled tight lines early – tucking both opening left-handers up on their thigh-pads with only three boundaries in the first five overs.
Short and Wade finished the Power Play at a respectable 0-40 thanks to some brilliant running, before they really accelerated by getting stuck into the spinners Liam Bowe and O'Connell.
They raced to 95 during the 12th over before Wade was caught Dunk off the bowling of O'Connell for a well run 41 off 38 balls that included just one boundary and one six.
It was by far the Hurricanes’ best ever BBL opening partnership at the enormous MCG following totals of 9, 0, 51, 1, 7 and 2 in previous seasons.
The only other Hurricanes wicket to fall was debutant Jake Doran caught and bowled Bowe for seven off eight balls, in an innings that never really got going while trying to feed the strike to a rampant Short at the other end.
Ben McDermott also launched into the Stars bowling alongside Short making a quickfire 27 not out from 19 balls including two huge sixes.
The Stars did not help their cause dropping six catches in total – one by their wicketkeeper Seb Gotch when Short was only three, two sharp caught and bowled chances, and two outfield catches spilled near the boundary line by Gulbis.
By the same token, Gulbis punctuated the Hurricanes’ late run-scoring onslaught with 0-1 from his one-off over and could consider himself unlucky not to get more deliveries.
The most economical Stars bowlers ended up being Bird with 0-27 from his four overs and Dwayne Bravo with 0-32 from his four overs which entailed a bruised shin from stopping a bullet cover drive.
In reply, the Hurricanes took regular wickets as the desperate Stars top-order batsmen tried to keep pace with the mounting run rate, chasing a challenging 186 for victory which could easily have been 200 plus.
Gulbis was dismissed early in the second over for just four off five balls, clean bowled by the wiley South African spin veteran Johan Botha leaving the Stars at 1-5.
Botha featured again in the second wicket catching Nick Larkin for 16 from 13 balls off the express pace bowling of Riley Meredith in the fifth over, just as Larkin’s 35-run partnership with Dunk was getting dangerous.
Dunk departed soon after, bowled by that ‘match-winning machine’ D’Arcy Short, for a rapid-fire 20 from 15 balls which included two boundaries and one six leaving the Stars in peril at 3-45 at the seventh over.
Stars skipper Nic Maddinson was quickly LBW Botha after a brief innings of six from seven balls and the Stars were now reeling at 4-51 in the eighth over.
Gotch and Bravo steadied the ship momentarily with a 43-run partnership before Meredith struck with another vital breakthrough – Bravo caught Jofra Archer for 19 off 16 balls.
Gotch followed not long after with another Botha catch off the bowling of Archer for an entertaining 35 from 26 balls that featured two boundaries and one six leaving Melbourne at 6-106 in the 15th over.
Meredith grabbed his third wicket when England import bowler Liam Plunkett was caught McDermott for 11 (8) making the score 7-124.
After that it was a steady procession of wickets – Jonathan Merlo run out brilliantly by a kneeling Clive Rose at cover for 11 (9), then Bird caught Archer bowled Meredith for 1 (2) and finally tail-ender Bowe out hit-wicket off the bowling of Jofra Archer for a golden duck.
The Stars were finally all dismissed for 126 – 60 runs short of victory, with Riley Meredith the best Hurricanes bowler taking 4-21 (4.0 overs) followed by Johan Botha with 2-21 (4.0 overs) and Jofra Archer taking 2-23 (3.1 overs).
The Hobart Hurricanes now travel west to battle the resurgent Perth Scorchers on Friday night in their return away clash at Perth’s new Optus Stadium from 9:30pm Tasmania time.
The ‘Cane Train’ does not pull back into home station until 4pm Tuesday 29 January against the Brisbane Heat at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.
Melbourne Stars: Ben Dunk, Even Gulbis, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Seb Gotch, Dwayne Bravo, Jonathan Merlo, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Liam Bowe, Tom O'Connell.
Hobart Hurricanes: D'Arcy Short, Matthew Wade, Jake Doran, Ben McDermott, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Johan Botha, Jofra Archer, Clive Rose, Riley Meredith.
LAST THREE MEN'S HOBART HURRICANES BBL|08 HOME GAMES:
Hurricanes vs Brisbane Heat - 4pm Tuesday 29 January, Blundstone Arena, Hobart - NB: LIVE Fox Sports TV ONLY.
Hurricanes vs Adelaide Strikers - 7:30pm Thursday 31 January, University Of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston.
Hurricanes vs Melbourne Renegades - 7:30pm Thursday 7 February, Blundstone Arena, Hobart.