Hobart Hurricanes 4 for 156 (Wade 52, Lamichhane 3-24) beat Melbourne Stars 5 for 155 (Maxwell 47, Larkin 45, Archer 3-25) by six wickets
A pair of dominant Powerplays by Hobart Hurricanes set them up for a comfortable victory over the Melbourne Stars at Bellerive Oval on Christmas Eve, the hosts' second win in as many starts while the visitors were forced to swallow a second consecutive defeat.
The contrast in the teams was summed up by the two opening six-over brackets, in which the Stars tallied a mere 2 for 35 before the Hurricanes powered to 1 for 58. This difference meant that Glenn Maxwell, Nick Larkin and the rest of the Melbourne batting order were left with too steep a task to accelerate to a defendable total, while in contrast Hobart's batsmen could absorb an excellent spell from Sandeep Lamichhane and still win with eight balls to spare.
A while to warm-up
An early BBL start in Hobart seemed to engender a hint of lethargy in the opening exchanges as batsmen and bowlers alike sought to find their groove. While James Faulkner was expensive in his first match against the team he had represented for each of the previous seven BBL seasons, it was Jofra Archer who was the first player on either side to take control of proceedings.
In his first over, Archer coaxed a miscued skier from Travis Dean to earn a return catch, before following up with the wicket of Ben Dunk, who also sent the ball skewing well into the air above Bellerive before being safely pouched by Faulkner. These early reverses meant that the Stars were a mere 2 for 35 at the end of the Powerplay, and took until the 10th over to press their run rate above six an over.
Maxwell and the lost balls
Left with the task of building some momentum from a previously moribund innings, Glenn Maxwell was on his way to doing so when he was dropped on 23 in the gully by Simon Milenko off a Faulkner full toss, at 2-87 in 11.5 overs. Maxwell's next ball was promptly swatted for six with tungsten wristwork, and in the 13th over he twice cleared the boundary in the cover region off the bowling of his former state teammate Clive Rose, forcing the umpires to call for replacement balls each time.
The first of Maxwell's strokes was a stupendous switch-hit, and the second a cover drive that was only orthodox in terms of the shape and arc of the bat at the point of contact - Maxwell's footwork and weight defied the logical balance from which such shots are usually hit. Both blows would have delighted Tasmanian tourism authorities, giving plenty of airplay to the prominent billboard for the island state's attractions with every replay. While Maxwell's innings would be ended by Archer - that man again - his 47 enabled the Stars to pile up 103 from the final 11 overs for the semblance of a competitive score.
A Short stay
Melbourne's later overs might have been still more productive without the clever left-arm wrist spin variations of D'Arcy Short, who might easily have had Maxwell lbw with a delivery that pitched in line and straightened. His figures of 2 for 23 featured only one six conceded, a number that the Stars had to be disappointed by, having faced a full quota of deliveries from Short's left hand.
They were to be confounded once again at the start of the innings as Short and Matthew Wade made the very most of their Powerplay, to create a yawning gap between the two sides in that key opening passage. Short has, in numerous Australian appearances this year, made a habit of soaking up balls without always making the most of them, but his urgency in Wade's company was noticeable. The Hurricanes pair only stayed together for 5.4 overs, but put on an industrious 55 in that time including no fewer than 20 from the first over bowled by Dwayne Bravo. Short, then, had played a leading hand at the end of one innings and the start of the other.
Sandeep excellence in isolation
Even as Wade was controlling the Hobart chase beyond Short's exit, Sandeep Lamichhane was putting together another spell to underline his talent and enormous potential to keep improving. Alex Doolan was beaten utterly by a perfect wrong-un zipping between bat and pad, Wade top edged an attempted sweep when a fraction of extra bounce had the ball looping obligingly to short fine leg, and Ben McDermott was also beaten by a googly, given lbw when defending on the front foot.
These incisions seemed to be closing things up, but where Archer had been backed up by Short's spell in the later overs, Lamichhane was unable to get adequate support - no other bowler in the Stars' attack conceded fewer than seven runs per over. The last chance for the visitors came and went when George Bailey launched Bravo down the ground and was not only dropped by Larkin running around from long off but also gifted four runs when the ball bounced out of the fielder's hands and over the rope on the bounce.