Melbourne Stars won through to the semi-finals and condemned Sydney Thunder to a winless KFC Big Bash League season after surviving a Chris Gayle onslaught at the MCG on Tuesday night.
The winless Thunder enjoyed their strongest bowling performance of the tournament to restrict the hosts to 8-145 before Gayle (65 from 43 balls) brought up his half century in just 25 deliveries to put the visitors on course for a boilover at the MCG on Tuesday night.
But his team-mates couldn't finish the job as a desperate Stars outfit got out of jail thanks to a strong all-round performance from their bowlers that dismissed the Thunder 14 runs short of their target.
Gayle's dismissal, when the Thunder needed 51 runs of 48 balls, triggered a collapse that cost them 8-41 and allowed the Stars back into the match.
The opener had clubbed six fours and four sixes but was caught in the deep off Dimitri Mascarenhas, and the Thunder's frail middle order was exposed.
Only Usman Khawaja (23 from 18 balls) provided any resistance as six Stars bowlers each snared a wicket.
Needing 18 from the final over, the Thunder clung to an outside chance of pinching a breakthrough win but with tailenders Gurinder Sandhu and Luke Doran at the crease there were no late heroics.
Earlier, Brad Hodge (39), Hussey (32), Rob Quiney (22) and Glenn Maxwell (11) all contributed with the bat for the Stars.
However Cameron White's run drought continued.
Acting as captain for the suspended Shane Warne, White (five) had his stumps shattered in the 18th over when unheralded paceman Simon Keen deceived the ex-Australian skipper with a slower ball.
The six-ball innings left him with an average of just 12 from seven BBL starts.
Veteran Thunder swing bowler Dirk Nannes (1-18 from four overs) continued his form with the ball while fellow seamer Sandhu claimed 2-33 including the key wickets of Hussey and Maxwell.
Gayle was lively in the field and snared two wickets to compliment his run out of Luke Wright in the second over.
The Stars will have to wait on this week's remaining regular season fixtures to know whether they'll face a demolition derby re-match against the top-of-the-table Renegades on Tuesday night at Etihad Stadium.
Perth Scorchers, Adelaide Strikers or even Brisbane Heat are the other potential semi-final opponents.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 09 January, 2013 12:49AM AEST