Strikers seal top spot with Canes win
ALEX Carey's maiden Twenty20 ton sealed Australian selection and a slot in Ricky Ponting's BBL team of the tournament as Adelaide Strikers closed on a home final by quelling Hobart last night.
Close mates Carey (100, 56 balls) and Jake Weatherald (65, 52) delivered a record Strikers opening stand of 171 - setting up a vital, 11-run victory that secured top spot with two rounds remaining.
Unconquered Alex Doolan (70, 55) and Ben McDermott (45, 29) made a valiant charge at a 188 chase with a 102-run, third-wicket stand. The Hurricanes looked gone at 2/57 when Peter Siddle bowled George Bailey (7) in the ninth over.
Needing 22 off the final over bowled by Michael Neser, Dan Christian was run out off the first ball before Adelaide shut-out Hobart (4/176).
Adelaide could be a victim of its own success, possibly losing trio Carey, spearhead Billy Stanlake and Travis Head for the finals on Australian T20 duty.
Wonder spinner Rashid Khan isn't available for the grand final if the Strikers make it, due to Afghanistan duties.
The Hurricanes pursuit of 188 for a sixth straight win was cruelled by Carey's renowned glovework, diving forward to dismiss boom opener Darcy Short (28, 24) off Neser (1/40).
Short holds the BBL all-time record for most runs in a season with 493 at 70.42 in 2017-18 while Carey is second with 361 at 68 this summer.
Carey could have beaten Tim Paine to replace Matt Wade as Test keeper with an early Sheffield Shield century this season for South Australia this season. The breakout keeper-batsman demands a debut for Australia in the forthcoming T20 tri-series against New Zealand and England after dismantling the Hurricanes.
"It's obviously very special. Jake and I had a great partnership, played with freedom and felt like I had been hitting them well," said Carey.
Carey's 12 boundaries and four over the ropes at a 178 strike rate showcased all the natural flair and clean hitting that had him earmarked as a future Test keeper before pursuing an AFL career with GWS.
Carey replaced Ben Dunk as Strikers keeper-batsman and shattered the now Melbourne Stars veteran's 364 aggregate last summer.
"He is doing everything right isn't he?" Australian T20 assistant coach Ponting told Channel 10.
Jofra Archer's (3/27) 150km/h quality reverse-swing yorkers prevented Adelaide from racing past 200.
Archer conceded eight runs off his last two overs, bowling Carey, trapping Jono Wells (8) lbw then skittling Jake Lehmann (4).
Leg-spin whiz Rashid was punished for the first time this season, taken for 20 off his third over, including three sixes by Doolan, who ignited after being hit by a Ben Laughlin bouncer in the 12th over.
Hobart conceded four boundaries from sloppy fielding but Striker Wells grassed Short on 18, while Siddle split webbing in his left hand putting down Doolan on 58 in the 15th over.