CRICKET BBL HURRICANES THUNDER
Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja have spearheaded Sydney Thunder to a convincing 57-run BBL elimination play-off win over the Hurricanes in Hobart.
The openers combined for a blistering 103-run stand and both hit half-centuries as the Thunder posted 5-197 on Thursday night.
In reply, Hobart big guns Matthew Wade (14) and D'Arcy Short (35) were both undone by the spin of Jono Cook (4-21) as the hosts were bowled out for 140.
Sydney keep their title hopes alive and progress to another elimination finals match against the third-placed Strikers in Adelaide on Saturday.
"It was definitely our best performance so far of the tournament. And to do it in a pressure knock-out situation is pleasing," Hales said.
The Hurricanes will be left to ponder a rollercoaster summer where they started slowly but qualified for the finals off three straight wins and a host of favourable results.
Englishman Hales lit up Bellerive Oval with 60 from 37 balls, which included a huge leg-side six off Scott Boland that landed on the roof of the grandstand.
Hales whacked nine boundaries in total for his third half-century against Hobart in as many games.
Khawaja returned to form with a 34-ball 54, the first time he's passed fifty in 10 matches.
He was the early aggressor and improvised with several scoop shots before being trapped lbw by a James Faulkner slower ball in the 10th over.
Coming off a career-best century, Wade's role in the chase ended early when he skied Cook in the third over.
Cook then had Short out to a leading edge in the seventh over, before returning late to pick up two tailenders and claim career-best figures.
In his final game before retiring to become a national selector, George Bailey swung valiantly but managed only 13 in front of his home crowd.
"We got outplayed, as simple as that. They got off to a flyer with the bat. We didn't bowl anywhere near as well as we have over the last three games," Wade said.
Rookie quick Nathan Ellis (1-18 from four overs) was the only Hurricanes bowler to not concede a boundary and was easily the pick of the home side's attack.
He went for just 12 runs from his two overs at the death.