1: Maiden overs are treasure in the Big Bash League. Peter Siddle bowled six dot balls to Thunder import Jos Buttler in the last over of the power play to start a string of cheap overs that swung the momentum back to the Strikers. Rashid bowled Buttler the next over, then Siddle had only three runs scored off the bat in over eight and Rashid went for five singles in his third over. Ben Laughlin and Billy Stanlake continued the squeeze as the Thunder went from 0/42 at the end of the fifth over to 2/66 after 12, only scoring 24 runs from 43 balls. Siddle returned at the end of the innings to bowl the last over and picked up two wickets for just one run to finish the night with 2/13 from his four overs.
2: Rashid Khan has faced only 11 deliveries in his BBL career but has already created an entertaining batting highlights reel, opening with his first-ball six on New Year’s Eve. His amusing start last night against the Thunder – when he fell over on the pitch while unsuccessfully trying to flick the ball over the wicketkeeper – was followed by a couple of ungainly shots against short balls at the start of the final over. But he finished off with two sixes, the first hit over wide mid-off and then the last into the stands beyond the mid-wicket fence to push the Strikers’ total to 158. Rashid has scored 26 runs, including three sixes, from the 11 balls he has faced in three games.
3: Meanwhile, Rashid’s controlled leg-spin continues to underpin the team’s bowling performances. He took another two wickets last night to become the first BBL player to take multiple wickets in their first five games. The popular Afghan has now taken 10/102 from 20 overs in his first BBL campaign.
4: Catches near, on and over the boundary rope provided some exciting moments at Sydney’s Spotless Stadium. Strikers captain Travis Head was about a metre short of driving Fawad Ahmed over the head of Kurtis Patterson at long-on and then three balls later Alex Carey hit the same shot, but this time Patterson stepped on the rope while taking the catch. Jake Lehmann was able to get his timing right, however, in Thunder’s innings when Shane Watson hit Neser his way, leaping to take the catch before tossing it in the air just in case he wasn’t able to avoid touching or stepping over the rope. Ben Laughlin had been hit for three consecutive sixes by Ben Rohrer in the 18th over but took a running catch at long-on the next over to intercept what may have been another six from Rohrer.
5: The Strikers have taken 40 wickets in the first five games, the most in the competition. Laughlin and Rashid have claimed 10 wickets apiece, Michael Neser and Stanlake seven each and Siddle has backed up his competition-leading economy rate with four wickets. Rashid and Stanlake are also ranked in the top ten for economy.
6: Chris Green’s right-arm off-breaks threatened to choke the Strikers’ innings. He slammed on the brakes after Carey and Jake Weatherald scored 18 from the first two overs, with only two runs taken off both of his first two overs in the power play. Green returned to bowl the 13th over and again was frugal, allowing just three singles. But after he switched ends for his last over (18th overall), Colin Ingram smashed the first ball over the rope and Michael Neser also hit a six before he was caught at backward point after chasing a wide one. Green’s last over cost 15 runs, leaving him with 1/22.