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Big Bash League: Usman Khawaja impresses as Sydney Thunder beat Melbourne Stars

Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja impressed with the bat as Sydney Thunder beat Melbourne Stars in their Big Bash League clash on Saturday.

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2018 16:57 IST
Omnisport
Big Bash League,Usman Khawaja,Sydney Thunder
Usman Khawaja scored 44 for Sydney Thunder defeated Melbourne Stars in their Big Bash League encounter.(Getty Images)

Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja and James Vince all contributed with the bat as Sydney Thunder kept their semi-finals hopes alive with a seven-wicket beating of Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.

The Thunder headed into Saturday’s contest at the MCG, where Hollywood star Will Smith was among the spectators, needing two wins from their remaining matches and other results to go their way to reach the last four.

And, after restricting the rock-bottom Stars to 147-6, they remained in the hunt by reaching their target with 23 balls still remaining.

READ | Indian Premier League fast-tracked players to top of the game: Virender Sehwag

Khawaja (44) and Vince (40) had set the tone by putting on 85 for the first wicket, before all-rounder and captain Watson blasted 49 off just 28 deliveries to seal the win.

Earlier, Peter Handscomb made a half-century, but the Stars never really accelerated during their innings and were easily picked off.

SYDNEY TRIO PUNISH STARS

A 148-run target had appeared a defendable total on what was seemingly a tricky pitch for the batsmen.

But Khawaja made light of that, the left-handed batsman – part of Australia’s winning Ashes side - tricked and flicked his way to 44 off 26, including nine fours.

Vince was slightly more explosive, his 29-ball knock including a flat six over mid-off in the second over and another maximum deep into the stands over deep fine leg.

A flatter delivery from Liam Bowe ended his knock, but all-rounder Watson was in fine tune with the bat – falling shy of a fifty as the runs were chased down, but his 28-ball showing had five fours and two sixes.

HANDY HANDSCOMB KNOCK IN VAIN

Opener Handscomb was the exception to the lacklustre batting rule for the Stars.

The wicketkeeper-batsman smashed three boundaries off Chris Green in the third over, before also giving Shane Watson the treatment a couple of times.

A brilliant pull through backward square leg off Mitchell McClenaghan was the pick of Handscomb’s boundaries, but the New Zealander gained revenge with a caught and bowled off the next ball.

ONE OFF THE BUCKET LIST FOR WILL SMITH

Americans are not really known for their love of cricket, but apparently attending a match was on the bucket list of Hollywood A-lister Will Smith.

A day after taking in the Australian Open, the ‘Fresh Prince’ star hit the MCG to pose for selfies with fans and players as well partake in the toss.

“This is my first cricket match. My 50th birthday is next year and I said I’m going to do all the things I want to do and a cricket match was on the bucket list,” he told Channel 10.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 16:57 IST