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|Jofra Chioke Archer||3.2||0||22||1||6.60|
We are just a few games away from the semifinals in the ongoing Big Bash League and the battle for the lone fourth spot is getting more and more intense with every passing day. Sydney Thunder are one of the candidates of the last available spot and they desperately need a win in their next match to even have a chance to qualify for the next round. They are set to face Hobart Hurricanes, who have already qualified and sealed a home semifinal, on 9th January at Canberra. For Hurricanes, it will be just another game before the important semifinal fixture and it will be interesting to see if they rest any of their key players before the big match.
Along with a win against the Hurricanes, Sydney Thunder need Melbourne Stars to lose all their games to stand any chance whatsoever to qualify. Additionally, they'd need to finish above Brisbane Heat in terms of net run rate.
At one stage, the Thunder looked comfortably placed to qualify for the top four, but their fate in the last few matches hasn't been good and now they're depended on the other teams to produce results for them.
Their last match was against the other team from Sydney, Sydney Sixers, in which they failed to put a decent total on the board and then failed in defending that. Batting first, the Thunder were kept quiet in the powerplay overs and were able to score only 38 with the loss of Jason Sangha. Just around the time when Watson was looking to up the ante, he nicked Sam Curran's rather harmless delivery and departed for a 24-ball 28. Thunder struggled to score against the spinners throughout their innings and were staring at a sub-120 score before Chris Green got them to a respectable total of 128 with his 34-run knock.
Thunder could have stood a chance had rain not intervened on a sluggish surface. They got off to a dream start as they had the wicket of Josh Phillipe and Chris Green bowled a tight second over to bring his back to the contention. There was assistance for the spinners on that surface, but James Vince and Daniel Hughes negated the spinners threat before and after the rain break as the Sixers cruised to the revised target of 84 with nine wickets in hand.
SR Watson, Anton Devcich, Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson, M Gilkes, Christopher Green, Daniel Sams, Chris Jordan, Pat Cummins, Gurinder Sandhu, Fawad Ahmed.
There's something different about this year's Hobart Hurricanes. They've been as consistent as Perth Scorchers have been over the years, excluding the current season, and most of the credit goes to the incredible support their local players have provided to their star players.
The opening pair of D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade has performed brilliantly, to say the least. Both have scored in excess of 500 runs in the tournament and have played a vital role in Hurricanes success in this edition. Such has been their dominance at the top is that the third person in the list, Callum Ferguson, is 200 runs behind Short and 150 runs behind Matthew Wade.
Along with their terrific bat, their bowlers have played their part to perfection. Although Faulkner and Archer have not been as good as Kane Richardson, they've done reasonably well together and have 34 wickets between them in the tournament. With excellent support from Meredith, Moody, Rose and Qais Ahmed, their bowling looks settled as well.
Their last encounter, against Melbourne Renegades, wasn't too different from what we've seen in the competition from them. D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade got them off to a terrific start which was brilliantly capitalized upon by their middle-order. Although Meredith had an off-day and proved to be a tad costlier than he usually has been in the tournament, the rest of the bowlers contributed well to derail Renegades' chase. D'Arcy Short is more than capable of rolling his arm and has played a valuable role with a ball in quite a few matches thus far. The Hurricanes have been a tough unit to beat in the competition thus far and it won't be easy going further either.
Matthew Wade, D'Arcy Short, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, GJ Bailey, Simon Milenko, Jofra Chioke Archer, Clive Rose, David Moody, Riley Meredith, Qais Ahmad.
We're into the last few days in the round-robin stage of the Big Bash League, but the clouds of uncertainty over the fourth position still loom large. This upcoming game between Hurricanes and Thunder should clear a lot of doubts. Thunder are desperate for a win and will need to step up and put their best game forward - something which they haven't done in their last two matches, at least. Hobart Hurricanes, on the other hand, are flying high and considering the past results, they certainly have been the best team of the tournament thus far. With opening batsmen in explosive form and bowlers doing decently, the Hurricanes are firm favorites to win the upcoming match and knock Thunder out of the contention for the semifinals.
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