Ricky Ponting has torn shreds off Adam Zampa after a horror drop in the Melbourne Stars' clash with Sydney Thunder condemned the Hobart Hurricanes to missing the BBL finals. The Thunder sealed their place in the finals on Wednesday night with a three-wicket win over the Stars, knocking the Hurricanes out of contention in the process.
A win from the Stars would have seen the Hurricanes qualify for the finals after their earlier victory over the Brisbane Heat. But the Thunder delivered a dagger blow to the Hurricanes as they came back from a precarious position to beat the Stars.
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Hurricanes fans (including Ponting) would have been death-riding the Thunder on Wednesday night, and things were looking promising when the Sydney side slumped to 5-60 while chasing just 120 to win. But the match swung in the Thunder's favour when Zampa dropped Chris Green when they needed 35 off 28 balls.
Zampa put down a rather regulation catch at short fine-leg to give Green a huge lifeline and put Daniel Sams on strike. Sams then blasted back-to-back boundaries off Nathan Coulter-Nile as the bowler seethed over Zampa's drop.
Ponting also took aim at Zampa while in commentary for Channel 7, pointing out the fact that the Stars captain has dropped four catches this BBL season. "As soon as it wept up in the air I was going to call that," Ponting said.
"It is unbelievable how many catches Adam Zampa puts down. It doesn't get any easier than that. That is an absolute sitter.
"That's the fourth catch that Adam Zampa has put down in this tournament. I remember quite a few as well in the green and gold, in the T20 World Cup there were a few wept down there.
"I understand it is the worst feeling in the game. No one means to put them down. But if you look at the best teams in the comp - the Sixers and the Scorchers - they don't put so many down."
Sydney Thunder qualify for BBL finals
Sams smashed 28 off 18 balls to take the game away from the Stars. Zampa (3-26) bowled him in the next over, but the damage had already been done by the costly drop.
Green and Nathan McAndrew steered the Thunder home with seven balls remaining, securing fourth spot on the BBL ladder and a home final. The win knocked Hobart out of fifth spot after the Hurricanes kept themselves alive earlier on Wednesday in a thrilling over the Heat.
The Thunder will now host the Heat in a knockout final at Sydney Showgrounds on Friday night. "Honestly, the batting we need to rectify it," Green said afterwards.
"It wasn't good enough unfortunately. I think to creep in and have a crack now at finals is exciting for us.
"We have taken them (Thunder fans) on our rollercoaster journey this season. But (the Heat) are a side we beat twice this season already. We know they are playing good cricket at the back end and we know we will have to play good cricket to beat them."
BBL finals schedule
'The Eliminator' - Sydney Thunder (4) v Brisbane Heat (5), Sydney Showground Stadium, Friday, 7:15pm
'The Qualifier' - Perth Scorchers (1) v Sydney Sixers (2), Optus Stadium, Saturday, 4:15pm AWST
'The Knockout' - Melbourne Renegades (3) v winner of 'The Eliminator', Marvel Stadium, Sunday 7:15pm AEDT
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