Kevin Pietersen’s Melbourne Stars set their opponents a big total to chase, but it was a rags-to-riches story for Mike Hussey’s Sydney Thunder, as the green Sydney side beat the odds to take their first ever Big Bash title.
Having finished bottom of the table in all but one of the previous tournaments, Sydney Thunder winning the Big Bash league, and ending Mike Hussey’s professional playing career with a trophy, must’ve seemed like a pipe dream. Thunder snuck into fourth place on the table and were granted a semi-final berth thanks more to the Melbourne Renegades losing than to Thunder winning.
Yet today, the least successful side in the history of the tournament held up the coveted trophy and it was largely due to the skills of former Lancashire and Derbyshire player Usman Khawaja. He and Jacques Kallis, chasing an impressive 176, reached 86 together before Adam Zampa removed Kallis for 28. Khawaja went on to survive a very close LBW call and reach 70, setting the tone for the Thunder’s innings.
Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn was named player of the tournament, finishing the year with 378 runs and the hashtag #Lynnsanity to his name. Khawaja finished in second place on the runs table with 345 runs, which was all the more impressive when you consider that his international commitments meant he only played four BBL matches.
Today’s final wasn’t all about Khawaja, though. Melbourne Stars batted first and an explosive 74 from 39 for Kevin Pietersen made the hosts look like the side to beat. In front of an enthusiastic MCG crowd, Pietersen hit five sixes and four fours as he helped build a strong total. The innings means the ex-England batter finishes the tournament as the third highest run scorer, with 323 with an average of just over 40.
Adelaide Strikers’ Adil Rashid had a superb tournament, finishing with 16 wickets and named runner up player of the tournament. The Strikers lost their semi-final to the champions, with Rashid contributing a wicket and a handful of boundaries. Usman Khawaja was key for Thunder once again, with a 58 ball 103 runs.
Perth Scorchers lost their semi-final to today’s runners-up, downed by Pietersen’s 62 and some questionable batting. Batting first, Michael Klinger reached 44 and Michael Carberry 13 as Perth made a total of 139. The Stars lost just three wickets in the chase, one of those contributed by David Willey to remove Luke Wright for just 7.
Another successful Big Bash League comes to an end, with a fairy tale ending for Australian legend Mike Hussey and a new round of questions to be asked about the England career of Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen himself told Australian network channel 10: “I’ve never batted like this. In the last, I don’t know, say 12 to 15 months, never batted like this. I am loving it.” His fans on this side of the world will surely be hoping that the ECB takes note.