Watson rolls back the years as Thunder sneak home


Sydney Thunder 5 for 150 (Watson 77, Patterson 29, Sams 4-14) beat Sydney Sixers 9 for 149 (Billings 32, Maddinson 31, Fawad 2-11) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Shane Watson‘s best is still better than the rest.

But even after a producing a sublime 77 from 46 balls, more than double the next-highest score in the match, Sydney Thunder still needed Arjun Nair and Aiden Blizzard to conjure 16 from the final over to steal the game off the final ball.

Daniel Sams, on his T20 debut with just three first-class matches to his name, appeared to have won the game for the Sixers with the ball. In the 18th over of the chase, with just 26 needed, he conceded two singles and a leg bye and removed Ryan Gibson and Watson with consecutive balls.

But the Thunder still found a way via a couple of powerful strikes and a fortunate top-edge.

Sams’ 4 for 14 aside, spin was the most effective weapon at Spotless Stadium. Having been sent in the Sixers made a blistering start, scoring 55 in the Powerplay for just the loss of Jason Roy.

Nic Maddinson looked in phenomenal touch, taking Watson to task in his only over. Watson turned to Fawad Ahmed and the legspinner spun a web. He removed Maddinson in a wicket-maiden in the seventh over of the innings.

Nair overcame a nervous start to combine with Fawad to take 3 for 5 in 15 deliveries in the middle of the innings to grind the Sixers to a halt.

Sam Billings salvaged the sinking ship with 32 from 21 to help the Sixers to a slightly-above-average total of 149.

Sams started beautifully showcasing all his skills in the first over. A quick bouncer to Jos Buttler preceded a full and straight delivery and then the three-card trick, an off-cutter slower ball that forced Buttler to check his shot and pop up a return catch.

Kurtis Patterson placed enormous pressure on Watson by striking at just 78 in his innings of 29. But Watson was unfazed. The veteran showed the value of continuing to play cricket at lower levels despite stepping away from two formats of the professional game.

His two hundreds in Sydney grade cricket this summer helped prepare him for his masterclass tonight. He struck the ball with trademark power and authority. He showed the controlled hitting and calmness that made him one of the best T20 players on the planet in his prime.

His dismissal to Sams came as a shock, but he wasn’t deceived so much as he failed to elevate his cover drive high enough.

But Blizzard and Nair found the 24 required from the last 13 balls, mainly at the expense of Sean Abbott who gave up three boundaries in the last over.



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