Pollard not enough to save Strikers

trikers’ Kieron Pollard (left) and Stars’ John Hastings exchange words in the heat of the battle.

ADELAIDE – A calculated 65-run blitz by West Indies batsman Kieron Pollard just failed to get his side over the final hurdle as the Adelaide Strikers were beaten by the Melbourne Stars by eight runs in the KFC Big Bash at the Adelaide Oval today

Chasing the Stars’ daunting 175 for 8, the Strikers finished their allocation of overs on 167 for 8. They were always playing catch-up despite some good early knocks from opener Tim Ludeman (30 in 21 balls) and Callum Ferguson (35 in 28 balls). But tight bowling in the middle overs from James Faulkner, Clint McKay and Lasith Malinga put the shackles on the Strikers.

Then came the Pollard assault.

He had scored just 27 runs, from 30 balls faced, when the 18th over began. He took 13 from John Hastings first four balls, before partner Matt Johnston added two twos, making it 41 required from 12. Malinga then delivered one of his most expensive overs of the tournament. Fourteen runs were scored from seven balls, the extra ball cost three wides, as Pollard shelved his power-hitting for a delicate paddle sweep to find the rope.

White had gambled by bowling out his big guns to ensure the Strikers had too many to score off the last over. Unfortunately Pollard had put it within reach, with 27 runs required from six balls.

Left-arm orthodox spinner Clive Rose, on T20 debut in the absence of Shane Warne, was asked by his stand-in captain to close it out.

Pollard and Johnston managed singles from each of the first two balls to mean only a tie was possible. Pollard miscued short of the point rope to ensure the game was beyond his reach. Never has a man been more furious when hitting two sixes in excess of 100 metres off the last three balls of a match than Pollard was, when his team fell eight runs short despite his 65 not out.

Earlier, man-of-the-match and former Australia international Brad Hodge muscled his way to a 58-ball 88 with ten fours and three sixes. Hodge, 38, put on a batting master-class at one of his favourite and most prolific venues.

Hodge spoke in a pre-game interview of the importance of a 360-degree range of stroke-play for modern batsmen in T20 cricket, and then delivered what he spoke about. First he swept Johan Botha to the boundary. Then he uppercut Shaun Tait fine of third man before glancing him wide of fine-leg for consecutive fours in the third over. He drove elegantly through cover and lofted powerfully over long-on. He hit Botha miles into the stands to bring up 50 from just 39 balls.

The following over, he cut Tait twice – once through backward point, the other through cover – both hitting the fence before the bowler had completed his short follow-through.†††

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