Strikers advance in final-ball thriller

Head and Laughlin the heroes as Adelaide set up a date with Hobart in Sunday's BBL final

Adam Burnett

2 February 2018, 11:46 PM AEST

Match wrap: Strikers prevail in final-ball thriller

The result: Adelaide Strikers 5-178 (Head 85no, Weatherald 57; Mennie 1-21) beat Melbourne Renegades 4-177 (Harris 45, Cooper 36no; Head 1-27) by one run with zero balls remaining

The match in a tweet: Match of the tournament! Head the hero as Strikers survive Gades' onslaught to win on the final ball! #BBL07

The hero: A little over 24 hours ago, no-one even knew Travis Head was taking part in this fixture. Then news filtered through that the left-hander wasn't going to be part of Australia's T20I XI in Sydney on Saturday night, meaning he was to be released for this semi-final. Entering proceedings in the second over, he was still there at the close, having hammered 85no from 57 balls to lead his side to a strong total. He then gambled on his own part-time offies, and it paid off; from four miserly overs he collected 1-27, with a crucial wicket.

Captain Head lights the way for the Strikers

The support cast: Jake Weatherald couldn't get himself past 20 for much of the tournament but the Darwin product came good when it mattered tonight, sharing a century stand with Head and striking a fine 57 (43) of his own. With the ball, Rashid Khan (who will be unavailable for the final) claimed 1-28 from his four overs, engaging in a fascinating battle in the dying overs with Renegades big-hitter Kieron Pollard, while Ben Laughlin bravely sent down the final over and did enough… just.

Strikers surge courtesy of Weatherald's fifty

The stat: Adelaide become the last team to reach their first Big Bash final. Only four teams have won it though, and this year regardless of the outcome, there will be a new champion.

The consolation efforts: Marcus Harris is in red-hot form and the dashing 'Gades opener got his team off to a flying start, crashing 45 from just 29 with four fours and two sixes. Paceman Joe Mennie picked quite a night to play his first match in red, and found a bit of seam movement and tight lines to return 1-21 from four overs.

In-form Harris opens up with a bang

The turning point: Harris was threatening to go large when that man Head intervened, tossing one up to entice a slog to the midwicket fence from the opener, who holed out. The wicket came at a pivotal juncture; Melbourne were well ahead of the run rate required at 1-82 in the ninth over and looking good things to hit their target.

The catch: This was an absolute stunner from ex-Strikers gloveman Tim Ludeman. 

Ludeman flies high to pocket a screamer

The nearly men: Nothing much ruffles iceman Tom Cooper (36no), but T20 legend Kieron Pollard (29no) is one man who could lay claim to being cooler still. In the final overs, with a spot in the decider on the line, the composed couple came together, with 40 still needed from 28 deliveries. With a mix of well-run twos and some timely boundaries, they put their team on the brink of victory – three runs were needed from the final ball. Ultimately however, it was beyond them, Pollard swinging for the fences and coming up blank as the whole of Adelaide celebrated his airswing.

Watch the thrilling final over at Adelaide Oval

The Fantasy wrap: Head's all-round skills echoed the dominance of Dan Christian in last night's semi-final from a Fantasy standpoint, with the Strikers skipper earning 151 points. Beyond that, Weatherald (81) and Pollard (74) were the next best performers.

The next stops: Strikers now play host to the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon at Adelaide Oval (4pm local), while the Renegades' strong season ends a match short of the big dance.

Meanwhile, Renegades batsmen Cameron White identified Strikers leg-spinner Rashid Khan as a potential trump card for the home side in the build-up to the contest. 

The 19-year-old tweaker has been a revelation in his first BBL campaign, taking 17 wickets at an average of 13 - no bowler has claimed more victims.

But White says at least he and his Renegades teammates had a look at Rashid when the teams met on January 22 in Melbourne and the Afghan took 2-26 in an Adelaide win.

"That is one good thing about playing in the round games - you get a bit of a look," he said. "And you get all the data and all that analytical stuff about where you would be able to score best and how to go about it.

"Getting a look at him the other night, I think only a couple of us had faced him before. I know it was my first time.

"Hopefully, we will play him a bit better this time around but, no doubt, he's their key."

Rashid has also been miserly while collecting wickets, conceding an average of 5.52 runs an over.

And White said each Renegades batsman would have his own plans to score off the leggie.

"Most of the data suggests the sweep shot," he said.

"But it's really up to the individual. Everyone's scoring areas are different.

"You have to weigh up the conditions, whether it's spinning, whether it's sliding on - everyone will have a bit of a different plan."