Strikers sparkle, Stars fade in BBL

Hodge, Ross come to Adelaide's rescue as big total proves too much for Melbourne

Adam Burnett

18 December 2015, 11:55 PM

Hodge shows class is permanent

The match in one tweet: WHAT A TURNAROUND! Ross, Hodge rescue Strikers with 115-run 5th-wkt stand to post 5-187, & Stoinis/Maxi/Huss heroics can't save Stars #BBL05

WATCH: 'Sweepologist' Ross razzles and dazzles

The hero: It's a dead heat tonight, between the two aforementioned Strikers batsmen who took the situation from dire to delightful for an appreciative Adelaide crowd of 27,611. Alex Ross was brilliant in compiling 65 from 31 balls – with seven fours and three sixes – while Brad Hodge motored along to 56 not out from 41 balls to set up their side's 21-run victory. In searing heat, the pair came together with the score at 4-64 in the 10th over and after finding their feet somewhat cautiously, they exploded, peppering the crowd beyond the square boundaries with a series of stunning strokes. Ross also employed his preferred sweep shot to great effect, while Hodge drove with precision, the duo transforming the innings as they found the ropes – and cleared them – with impunity. In all, it was a record partnership for the fifth wicket in BBL cricket - from just 58 deliveries.

WATCH: Hodge, Ross thrill with century stand

The support cast: Opening batsmen Tim Ludeman (18) and Craig Simmons (13) didn't get out of their teens but they both struck a pair of sixes to give an indication of the Strikers' firepower and – more importantly – provided great impetus to the innings, which Ross and Hodge benefited from as they settled into their partnership. Honourable mentions to Strikers quicks Ben Laughlin – but more on him later – and Kane Richardson, who helped close out the Stars' run chase.

WATCH: Ludeman goes big ... and bigger

The consolation effort: Glenn Maxwell is a born entertainer and while he only faced 12 balls tonight, we saw just about the whole box of tricks, including this remarkable switch-hit six from the bowling of Jon Holland.

WATCH: Maxi switches into magic mode  

The moment: At 1-90 after 11 overs, the game was in the balance. Enter Laughlin. The leading wicket-taker in BBL history removed Marcus Stoinis with the first ball of his over, and Kevin Pietersen from the last. Dave Hussey and Maxwell put up a valiant fight thereafter, but after Laughlin's impact, they were always up against it. The double-wicket breakthrough also meant Laughlin became the first man to 50 BBL wickets. 

The talking point: Stars wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb found himself at the centre of controversy with his third dismissal – that of Strikers young gun Travis Head. Head flayed at a wide John Hastings delivery and nicked it through to the keeper, who reached low for the catch. The appeal was accepted by the on-field umpires yet replays afterward appeared inconclusive. Irrespective, the Strikers' fans will likely lose little sleep over the decision given it paved the way for one of the great partnerships in Big Bash history.

WATCH: Handscomb grab sparks controversy

The stat: The Strikers' total of 5-187 is the second-highest they've managed in KFC Big Bash history, and the third-highest ever at the Adelaide Oval, behind their own and the Scorchers' totals of 189 at the venue.

The wash-up: Excellent start from the Strikers, whose hitting power is devastating even without Kieron Pollard. Plenty of positives from the Stars' perspective as well – these are two sides that look likely to go deep into the tournament.