A half-century from Luke Wright helped the Melbourne Stars stretch their unbeaten record to seven in Tuesday night’s Big Bash clash with the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG.
The win came at a cost for the Stars after former Test opener Rob Quiney injured his shoulder while fielding.
Man-of-the-match Wright hit 52 off 36 deliveries for the Stars, who made 5-135 with five balls to spare chasing 132 to win.
The England import’s second half-century of the series lifted his run tally to 262 to be equal top-scorer with the Melbourne Renegades’ opener Aaron Finch.
The Stars were rocked on Tuesday by the announcement Sri Lanka’s board had recalled Lasith Malinga to allow the paceman to work on his fitness ahead of next month’s one-day and T20 series in Bangladesh.
An extremely disappointed Stars’ chief executive Clint Cooper said the title favourites hoped to regain Malinga for the semi-finals on February 4 and 5.
The pre-game withdrawal of Malinga wasn’t the only setback for the Stars. Quiney walked off clutching his right shoulder after making a diving attempt to take a catch.
Quiney courageously came out to bat at No.3 in obvious pain, scoring 13.
Brad Hodge (12) was caught by a diving Ben Dunk at mid-on and Wright’s departure at 4-101 left the game still in the balance.
Marcus Stoinis (10) went cheaply but David Hussey (19 not out) and Peter Handscomb (13 not out) guided the home team safely to victory.
Fiery medium pacer Ben Laughlin took 2-28 and fought a running verbal battle with Hussey.
“It was a little bit tighter than what we wanted,” Hussey said.
Asked about Laughlin, Hussey added: “It’s high stakes. Everyone around the league knows Benny loves a chat.”
The Hurricanes made 9-131 after being asked to bat first.
John Hastings led the way with 2-15 off four overs while Scott Boland and Marcus Stoinis also claimed two wickets each. Spinner David Hussey (1-19 off four overs) dismissed Tim Paine with the first ball of the match.
Travis Birt (31) and Ben Dunk (30) shared a 43-run partnership before falling in consecutive balls to Stoinis.
Dunk cracked a cut shot to backward point where Luke Wright fumbled a sharp chance and regathered it off his chest in spectacular style.
Aiden Blizzard finished 28 not out.
The Stars this week are without James Faulkner, Clint McKay, Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade because of Australian duties for the one-day series against England, while Jackson Bird and Faulkner will miss next month’s BBL finals series because of Australia’s Test tour of South Africa.
Fifth-placed Hobart host the Brisbane Heat in a vital clash on Thursday while the Stars’ last game of the regular season is at the MCG against the Perth Scorchers next Monday.
Quiney, who had shoulder surgery in 2013, said he felt sore but was hopeful it was not a serious injury this time.
Laughlin said the Hurricanes were still alive in the tournament with a place in the top four on the line.
“It all comes down to Thursday night back at home,” he said.
“We weren’t too far off tonight.”