Big Bash League: Sydney Thunder lose to Perth Scorchers despite Andre Russell's antics

Big Bash League: Sydney Thunder lose to Perth Scorchers despite Andre Russell's antics

Andre Russell's spectacular innings of 42 runs from 20 deliveries thrilled the crowd but it wasn't enough to get the Sydney Thunder home after they let the Perth Scorchers off the hook before losing by 30 runs.

Russell, who is becoming the Big Bash League's answer to Superman, strutted to the crease with the Thunder in trouble at 3-49 and after getting his eye in, he exploded, carting the likes of Brad Hogg and David Willey for five sixes - including one monster maximum that hurtled 116 metres into the crowd.

Earlier in the night Russell delivered a heavy blow for the Thunder when he dismissed Michael Klinger with just the third ball of the match but ultimately any hope of victory rested upon his shoulders. While he gave the 18,942 crowd hope he fell trying to swipe a Jason Behrendorff delivery into orbit.

After Russell's departure, a flow of wickets led to the Thunder's third straight defeat, putting their finals aspirations under pressure after starting BBL05 with three straight victories.

Thunder clap: Andre Russell made a dashing 42 off 20 balls, but it wasn't enough to save the Thunder.

Thunder clap: Andre Russell made a dashing 42 off 20 balls, but it wasn't enough to save the Thunder.

Photo: Getty Images

Adding salt to the Thunder's wounds was they let the Scorchers back into the game when, after winning the toss and sending Perth into bat, they restricted the league's benchmark team to 57 runs after 10 overs. However, a 105-run partnership from 51 deliveries between Cameron Bancroft and Ashton Agar turned the tide in their team's favour

Russell broke through to dismiss Klinger LBW for a duck and had the Scorchers 1-0; Clint McKay then dismissed Marcus Harris in the second over to leave Perth 2-1 and by the end of the power play the Thunder had bowled 24 dot balls in the first six overs to restrict Perth to 23 runs.

Shane Watson personified the collective effort of the attack when he took the ball for that sixth over and generated speeds that varied between 129 to 135km/h, limiting the Perth batsmen to only two runs. At the end of the 10th over - the halfway mark - Perth were 2-57 and seemingly on the canvas

That feeling only intensified in the 11th over when Shaun Marsh was caught by Jacques Kallis off the first over Andrew McDonald has bowled in this tournament and while the scoreboard said Perth were 3-64, it brought Bancroft and Agar together and they wasted no time in punishing an attack that had previously appeared as though they could do no wrong as they plundered a 105 run partnership off 51 balls.

Bancroft, who missed a possible baggy green cap when the tour of Bangladesh was cancelled last year because of security concerns, scored his first BBL half century on his way to a crucial 72 before falling LBW to Russell.

Agar, the spin bowler who scored 98 runs as Australia's No.11 batsman in his Test debut during the 2013 Ashes was as outlandish as he was outstanding in his whirlwind knock of 68 from 34 deliveries. The 22-year-old blasted four sixes and five boundaries but his strikerate of 200 told the story.

The Thunder, who missed their skipper Michael Hussey - he was sidelined by a hamstring injury - was set 176 for victory but after openers Aiden Blizzard and Jacques Kallis, both for seven runs, to Jason Behrendorff in the third over the pressure appeared overwhelming before the game had even started.

Watson, captaining the Thunder for the first time, scored an aggressive 18 off 17 deliveries - 14 from one Joel Paris over - but there wasn't enough like it and as the match progressed the run rate needed per over for victory grew from 9.69 to 13 before peaking at 78 with three balls remaining.

It was T20s answer to Chinese water torture and while Russell did all he could he watched from the bunker as his teammates capitulated to a comprehensive defeat that elevated the Scorchers to top of the competition's ladder.

Daniel Lane

Daniel Lane is a sports reporter and video journalist with Fairfax Media.

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