New year, same old story.
Melbourne Stars keep winning, Sydney Thunder keep losing.
The Thunder are still waiting for their first Big Bash League win since 2011 after a seven wicket loss to the unbeaten Melbourne Stars at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.
The home side suffered a 16th straight loss, having last tasted victory on December 23 2011, but the Stars only reached their target with five balls to spare.
The talent-stacked Stars, in which Marcus Stoinis was the only player not to have played senior cricket for his country, made it three wins from as many games.
Ultra-reliable Thunder captain Mike Hussey (66 off 48 balls) gave his underdog side a sniff of an upset win with another well judged innings.
It was another veteran, Brad Hodge (64 not out off 36), who swung the match irreversibly in the Stars’ favour with some brutal late hitting, pasting five sixes and four fours.
The form book might have taken a pounding had it not been for a couple of critical incidents that went against the hapless Thunder.
The Stars’ Matt Wade appeared to feather a catch behind before he had scored, but umpire Gerard Abood remained unmoved.
“I smashed it, but I’m not walking,” an honest Wade told Network Ten following his dismissal.
At 3-109 in the 15th over, Thunder were again denied a crucial wicket.
Thunder debutant Tillakaratne Dilshan (0-29 off 3) looked to have run out Hussey when his short range throw flicked a bail off at the non-striker’s end.
Incredibly, the bail flopped back onto the top of the stumps and Hussey survived.
Wholehearted left arm speedster Dirk Nannes (1-15) was an outstanding performer for Thunder.
Hussey struck six fours and brought up his 50 with a six off Lasith Malinga (0-33 off 4) before being run out in the 18th over.
He put on 57 with Eoin Morgan (31 off 23) until being dismissed by the tidy Jackson Bird (1-17 off 4).
The debut of Sri Lankan veteran Dilshan proved a damp squib as he fell for a fourth ball duck.
One delivery after failing to connect with his trademark ‘Dilscoop’, Dilshan was caught behind off John Hastings (3-31 off 4), cutting a ball too close to his body.
“It probably got a little bit nervy there – 10 an over is always a 50-50 proposition,” man-of-the-match Hodge said.
“With experience and Huss (David Hussey, 16 not out off 13) at the crease, I think 10 an over was manageable.’
Asked about Hussey’s luck with the bail, Hodge said: “It was quite entertaining to see it light up, we knew that it couldn’t have been out.”
Mike Hussey was philosophical about the two match-tilting incidents.
“When you are going well those little bits of luck seem to go your way. Unfortunately they are not going our way at the moment,” Hussey said.
“But if we keep staying positive, keep backing each other, keep trying to execute our skills, the worm will turn and those little things will go our way, and when they do, then hopefully a few wins go with that.
“But we were very competitive again, tonight. We were playing against a fantastic team.
“To push them all the way to the last over was a very good effort, but unfortunately very good efforts don’t get you the points. We’ve got to keep pushing.”