Chris Lynn special extends Thunder’s winless streak

No team can expect to win matches after dropping catches in crucial situations. Defending champions Sydney Thunder found that out the hard way as they dropped three catches in the final five overs to slump to their third successive defeat in the 2016-17 Big Bash League on Wednesday (December 28). The spilt chances though shouldn’t be taking any credit away from Brisbane Heat batsman Chris Lynn, who smashed an unbeaten 85 off just 48 balls and rallied with the lower order to literally pull off a heist at the Sydney Showground Stadium.

Lynn made his way out to the middle in the very first over as Heat lost opener Jimmy Peirson for a two-ball duck. Pat Cummins then struck the crucial blow in the second over of the chase by castling Heat skipper Brendon McCullum for four. Cummins beat the retired New Zealand batsman with sheer pace and did the same with Alex Ross in his next over. A perfectly executed yorker shattered the stumps yet again as Thunder appeared to be in control of the match for the first time while defending 157.

Momentum shifted a bit in the last over of the powerplay though as Lynn, who finished as the top run-getter last season, hit Cummins for five successive boundaries to lift the run rate to eight. Shane Watson, who had finally made his much-awaited return, then brought on both the spinners to stifle the visitors. The move paid off as Chris Green breached the defence of Joe Burns which was then followed by Fawad Ahmed trapping Ben Cutting leg-before-wicket just four balls later.

Ahmed struck again in his final over to leave Heat reeling at 67 for 6 after 11 overs. At this point in time, Thunder were firmly on top and were the outright favourites to win their first game of the season since Heat needed 91 from 9 overs with just four wickets in hand. The equation only became tougher after three overs with the visitors needing 75 from 36 balls with Lynn being the only recognised batsman.

The turning point then came in the 16th over when Andre Russell dropped Jack Wildermuth at the long on boundary and tipped the ball over for a six. The crowd stationed behind him were stunned and to make matters worse, Wildermuth hit another six off the very next ball before getting dismissed. That drop catch easily cost Thunder 12 runs at a crucial juncture in the game.

Lynn then put his side on top by getting on top of Clint McKay in the 18th over to smash him for two sixes and a four which brought the equation down to 17 from 12. Cummins conceded a four off the first ball but then saw another catch go down much to his dismay as his ploy of bowling a short ball nearly worked. Lynn managed to get a glove on it and as the wicketkeeper looked well stationed to take it, he managed to shell it to shock the capacity crowd. Lynn rubbed salt on the home side’s wounds by getting a top edge off another bouncer and this time the keeper had no chance with the ball racing away to the boundary.

Watson was the culprit in the final over as Lynn found him at cover when four runs were needed off five deliveries. It was again a case of a comfortable catch being put down and the skipper couldn’t believe his luck. The crowd made their feelings apparent as the drop was met by a chorus of boos around the ground. Heat completed the formalities with two deliveries to spare with Lynn flicking a leg stump full toss away for a boundary.

Earlier in the evening, Thunder were off to a disastrous start as Samuel Badree and Mark Steketee struck once each to leave them 13 for 2 after the first four overs. While Badree had Ryan Gibson out stumped, Watson made a six-ball duck on his highly-anticipated return.

Kurtis Patterson and Eoin Morgan steadied the ship and hit a six each off Wildermuth in the tenth over to get the run rate up to six but the former perished in the very next over. Morgan though continued to up the ante and smashed Mitchell Swepson for a couple of sixes and a four in the 13th over as Thunder finally appeared to gain momentum. He reached his half-century off 40 deliveries but fell immediately after Russell’s wicket.

Those two dismissals pegged Thunder back and at one stage it looked as if they would not go past the 140-run mark. But Green hit the last three balls of the innings for three sixes to guide the home side to 157. It was a total that would have certainly won them the game by a comfortable margin had they hung on to their chances.

Brief scores: Sydney Thunder 157/7 in 20 overs (Eoin Morgan 52, Kurtis Patterson 36; Samuel Badree 2-20) lost to Brisbane Heat 160/7 in 19.4 overs (Chris Lynn 85*, Jack Wildermuth 29; Faward Ahmed 2-19, Chris Green 2-31) by three wickets.

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