Melbourne Stars defeated Sydney Thunder by 28 runs in the Challenger played at iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, MCG on Thursday.
Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell won the toss and decided to bat first. Marcus Stoinis continued his superb form in this season with aggressive stroke taking on Sydney Thunder bowlers. On the other hand, Nic Maddison hit 2 lovely boundaries before being dismissed by Chris Morris for 11 . Melbourne openers put on 38 runs in just 3.3 overs. Larkin came to the crease and struggled to time the ball initially. At the end of six overs, Melbourne were 52 for 1.
After the power play overs, Larkin and Stoinis were aggressive Thunder bowlers which made life tough Callum Ferguson. Stoinis reached his fifty off just 41 balls and kept the scoreboard ticking along with Larkin. After the initial struggle, Larkin displayed great hitting and rotated the strike well, reaching his fifty off 36 balls . Chris Morris got his 2nd wicket off the innings dismissing Marcus Stoinis for 83 off 54 balls. Stoinis and Larkin added 117 runs for the 2nd wicket. Larkin took the charge with big hitting in death overs adding unbeaten 39 runs for the 3rd wicket, out of which Glenn Maxwell only contributed 4 runs off 6 balls. Melbourne Stars posted a competitive total of 194 for 2 in 20 overs.
In reply to 195 runs to win, Usman Khawaja looked in good touch with positive stroke play. Melbourne Stars got the breakthrough dismissing Alex Hales with a run out by Nathan Coulter Nile. Hales and Khawaja added 21 runs in 2.5 overs. Coulter Nile struck to dismiss the dangerous Usman Khawaja for 23. Haris Rauf got the big wicket of Sydney Thunder captain Callum Ferguson for 7. At the end of six overs, Sydney Thunder were 46 for 3.
Chris Morris was promoted to number 5 in the batting order and steadied the Thunder innings along with Alex Ross. Rauf struck his 2nd wicket dismissing Morris for 21 off 16 balls. Morris and Ross added 45 runs for the 4th wicket. With run rate climbing, Alex Ross played some lovely strokes along with Arjun Nair. Ross reached his fifty off 35 balls and gave some of Sydney Thunder winning. After hitting a six, Adam Zampa got the wicket of Ross for 58. Ross and Arjun Nair added 58 runs for the 5th wicket. Stars bowlers looked in control and restricted Thunder to 166 for 8 in 20 overs.
Melbourne Stars 194 for 2 in 20 overs (Marcus Stoinis 83, Larkin 83*, Chris Morris 2/30) beat Sydney Thunder 166 for 8 in 20 overs ( Alex Ross 58, Arjun Nair 30, Haris Rauf 3/17, Coulter Nile 2/23) by 28 runs.
Nick Larkin for his 83 not out off 49 balls, Larkin was awarded the man of the match. Melbourne Stars will face Sydney Sixers in the finals to be played at SCG on 8th February.