The Strikers celebrate with the BBL trophy. Photo: CA
An astounding Jake Weatherald pyrotechnics show powered Adelaide Strikers to their first Big Bash League (BBL) title with a 25-run victory over Hobart Hurricanes in the final on Sunday (February 4).
Smashing a slew of records, Weatherald fell just short of the tournament record in his scorching 70-ball 115 marked by eight eye-catching sixes - the most ever by a batsman in a BBL final. He combined in a match-winning 140-run partnership with captain Travis Head (44 from 29 balls) to propel the Strikers to an imposing 202 for 2.
The Strikers held off a determined chase from the powerful Hurricanes batting order with veteran quick Peter Siddle (3 for 17) starring through an assortment of cunning bowling. The 33-year-old effectively ended the match when he claimed the key scalp of emerging superstar D'Arcy Short (68 from 44 balls) with his last ball as the Hurricanes still needed a forlorn 58 runs from 18 balls.
Even though their dreams of glory ended in bitter despair, the Hurricanes were bold and overcame the early loss of Tim Paine to confidently charge at the daunting total. Much of the burden was on BBL player-of-the-tournament Short, who had made his international debut last night against New Zealand, and he smoked his second ball to the boundary to signal his intent.
Short was bogged down in the middle overs by accurate Strikers bowling, particularly from Siddle, but rediscovered his belligerent best as he reached his half-century off 36 balls. The Hurricanes looked a chance when Short and captain George Bailey combined in a rapid half-century stand.
Using his feet crisply, Bailey smashed two sixes off Head in the third over as the Hurricanes matched the required run rate after plundering 60 runs in the power play. Bailey quickly notched his highest score in a sluggish BBL campaign as he combined with Short in a swift 81-run partnership to leave the match delicately poised. But Bailey holed out for a 33-ball 46 as the pressure fell on Short, who was unable to quite replicate his heroics from the previous games in the tournament.
Matthew Wade, who top-scored in the semifinal as an opener, strangely batted at No.6 and was run out without facing a ball as the Strikers could sense their first ever title was imminent.
It capped off a well-rounded performance from the hosts after Head won the toss on a flat pitch amid stifling Adelaide conditions. Opener Alex Carey, who like Short made his international debut last night, looked in fine touch before chopping on in the fifth over but the Strikers notched 50 in the power play to underline their rollicking start.
Weatherald pounced on anything short, smashing a couple of innocuous Dan Christian bouncers into the crowd in the eighth over. Fittingly, he smashed another six off Short to reach an electrifying half-century in 29 balls. In one astounding burst of power hitting, the white hot Weatherald clubbed five sixes in 11 deliveries in the most brutal batting ever seen in a BBL final.
Watching the fireworks from the other end, Head - who was also released from international duties by Cricket Australia - made just three out of 50 runs as Weatherald took centrestage. Intent on joining in the carnage, Head lashed out and was dropped twice in the space of six balls as the frazzled Hurricanes were melting under the pressure.
Having notched his third straight fifty, Weatherald's irresistible batting continued as he flayed the flagging attack all over the Adelaide Oval much to the delight of the 35,000-strong crowd. He notched his scintillating century in the 16th over, off just 58 deliveries.
Deservedly, the emerging batsman celebrated with gusto as the parochial crowd collectively rose to the feet to acknowledge the first ever centurion in a BBL final.
Everything was going right for Weatherald, including two miscued swipes over the 'keeper that raced to the boundary and evoked a disbelieving chuckle from frustrated quick Jofra Archer. His innings for the ages ended in the 19th over when he holed out but more hard-hitting at the death from Colin Ingram propelled the Strikers to the highest ever total in a BBL final - which proved more than enough.
After so gamely reaching the final, the Hurricanes will still continue their search for their first ever BBL title.
Brief Scores: Adelaide Strikers 202/2 in 20 overs (Jake Weatherald 115, Travis Head 44) beat Hobart Hurricanes 177/5 in 20 overs (D'Arcy Short 68; Peter Siddle 3-17) by 25 runs.