The match in a tweet: Strikers clinical as bowlers seal a comprehensive victory despite absence of Carey, Siddle, Stanlake. #BBL|08
The score: Adelaide Strikers 5-178 (Ingram 57, Head 43, Wells 32no; Plunkett 4-36) defeated Melbourne Stars 137 (Gulbis 37; Laughlin 3-19, O'Connor 2-24) by 41 runs
The hero: Colin Ingram was Adelaide Strikers’ stand-in skipper while Travis Head was on Test duty and the South African led from the front tonight with a composed half-century after the defending champions lost two wickets in the Power Play against Melbourne Stars at Adelaide Oval. Batting at No.4, Ingram hit 57 from 41 balls, his second fifty of BBL|08, to steer the Strikers out of dangerous territory. He combined with Head for a 74-run stand for the third wicket, with Ingram hammering four boundaries and two sixes.
The supporting cast: The Strikers’ bowlers performed with aplomb in the absence of Australia ODI squad members Peter Siddle and Billy Stanlake to ensure they were never in danger of losing after the Stars made an aggressive start to their innings. The visitors raced to 0-50 in the sixth over, but the Strikers dominated from there with Ben Laughlin (3-19), Liam O'Connor (2-24), Michael Neser (2-32), Wes Agar (2-33) and Rashid Khan (1-18) all starring. Head impressed in his return with a classy 43 from 31 balls, including three sixes, as the Strikers claimed an important win to move into second spot at 4-3.
The quiet achiever: Jono Wells has been hugely effective in the middle-order for the Strikers this tournament and he continued his good form in Adelaide’s latest win. Wells blasted an unbeaten 32 from 14 balls at a strike rate of 228 to lift his side to a total above 170. Wells has only been dismissed twice from seven innings in BBL|08 and has contributed 166 runs at an average of 83.
The consolation act: While he was on the receiving end of some severe treatment from Head (more on that below), Englishman Liam Plunkett impressed in his third appearance for the Stars and returned figures of 4-36 from four overs. He started with the big wicket of Jake Weatherald before also removing Head, Ingram and Rashid Khan to take his season tally to six wickets from three games after being drafted in as a replacement player in December following Matt Parkinson's withdrawal due to injury.
The recovery: The Strikers had far from the ideal start after losing the bat flip and being sent in and were 2-32 after the Power Play – their worst return of BBL|08. But on the back of a superb partnership from Head and Ingram, some late hitting from Wells and a 23-run final over, the home side recovered to post what proved a sufficient total. The Strikers exploded in the last 10 overs, blasting 119 runs in a display which showed the value of keeping wickets in hand. After Stars pacemen Jackson Bird, Scott Boland and Plunkett dictated terms early, the Strikers were riding a wave of momentum by the end of their innings.
The big over: It was a triple treat for the crowd at Adelaide Oval, with Head smacking three consecutive sixes off the bowling of Plunkett in the 13th over before being dismissed by the fast bowler in an action-packed period of the match.
The stat: Head became the first Strikers batsmen to reach 1000 runs tonight after entering the match needing 12 runs to achieve the milestone.
The next stops: The Strikers will face Sydney Thunder away from home at Spotless Stadium on Sunday as part of a triple-header, while the Stars meet Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG on Monday.