Melbourne Stars 183 for 5 (Clarke 101*, Meredith 2-38) beat Hobart Hurricanes 145 for 9 (Wade 35, Wood 3-25, Zampa 3-27, Coulter-Nile 2-24) by 38 runs

After being sent in, Englishman Clarke hit 101 not out from 66 balls to dominate Stars’ innings in batting-friendly conditions. Hurricanes were never in the chase in a poor season-opening loss, while Stars regrouped following their dramatic last ball defeat on Tuesday.

Clarke bounces back in style
After the anguish of letting through byes on the final delivery against Thunder, wicketkeeper-batter Clarke bounced back and batted through the innings this time. Dropped on one by a diving Shadab Khan at short third, Clarke was unstoppable during the powerplay to get Stars off to a flyer.

Clarke needed to fire, because Stars’ batting was shorthanded without Joe Burns, who joined Glenn Maxwell on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring against Thunder. Marcus Stoinis, who is recovering from Covid-19 and for the second straight match was not well enough to field, fell for a second-ball duck after his first-ball dismissal against Thunder.

But it didn’t matter as Clarke scored all around the wicket to continue his strong form from last season, where he was Stars’ most consistent batter before Covid-19 swept through the team to derail their campaign.

Clarke reached his first BBL century in the final over and smashed four sixes overall, but the biggest went to Beau Webster, who hit Riley Meredith into the third tier of the mammoth MCG.

Dooley impresses as Hurricanes rely on spin
There was a lot of anticipation over the new era for Hurricanes, who are seeking an elusive title. Under new coach Jeff Vaughan and head of strategy Ricky Ponting, Hurricanes attempted to shake things up in their season-opener.

After electing to bowl, Hurricanes decided to back spinners Shadab and left-armer Patrick Dooley, who had only played one BBL game before.

Hurricanes’ strength has traditionally been their pace attack, but Shadab and Dooley were used in the powerplay, where Stars raced to none for 46 after four overs.

Meredith and Nathan Ellis didn’t bowl in the powerplay. Ellis was held back until the tenth over in a bid to bowl in the backend, where his canny slower deliveries are especially proficient at the death. But it didn’t do the trick with Meredith and Ellis conceding a combined 81 runs from eight overs.

In an encouraging note, Dooley – who has an action described as the bowling equivalent of a windmill – impressed amid an onslaught to finish with 1 for 27 from four overs, the wicket coming when he bowled Stoinis with a beautifully tossed-up delivery.

Stars’ bowling attack continues to impress
Stars’ bowling had been identified as their weak point in previous seasons, but their attack has started impressively against the high-voltage Thunder and Hurricanes.

After an immediate impact against Thunder, prized recruit Trent Boult struggled, but it didn’t matter with Stars’ other bowlers stymying Hurricanes with disciplined bowling. English recruit Luke Wood picked up the key wicket of Ben McDermott, and his probing bowling in the powerplay ensured Stars maintained a stranglehold.

Webster’s handy all-round performance continued with his nagging seamers conceding just 21 runs from four overs.

It’s a strong start to the captaincy of Adam Zampa, who also claimed three wickets.

David moves up but can’t get going
It was a daunting chase but Hurricanes’ explosive batting order looked capable of giving it a crack. Unfortunately, they couldn’t fire at any stage and fell behind the required rate early.

As had been flagged from their new brains trust, big-hitter Tim David came in earlier than in past seasons as he entered in the tenth over batting at No. 5. There had been some criticism last season over David coming to the crease too late, although his proficiency as a finisher saw him earn a spot in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad. He hit a first-ball boundary but couldn’t find his rhythm as Hurricanes finally took the power surge in the 17th over in vain.

Tribute to Warne
On the 23rd ball of the match, representing his famous jersey number, the smattering of fans at the MCG gave a standing ovation to Shane Warne, who passed away earlier in the year.

As Stars’ inaugural captain, Warne’s marketing efforts and sheer magnetism helped mould the franchise into a drawcard, although they have generally underperformed through the years.

Warne’s considerable heft was important for the BBL’s credibility in the early years as Stars retired his No. 23 jersey amid a tribute match for him.


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