Morris powers Thunder into BBL top five

Adrian Warren
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CRICKET BBL THUNDER SCORCHERS

Alex Hales has hit 47 off 27 balls for Sydney Thunder who've earned a vital home BBL win over Perth

Sydney Thunder import Chris Morris finally found the middle of the bat when it mattered, as his last-over heroics kept his club's BBL season alive with a seven-wicket win over Perth.

The South African paceman and big hitter had scored just 45 runs in nine innings before Sunday, but rediscovered his touch as the Thunder beat the Scorchers with two balls to spare at Sydney Showground Stadium.

After rain and bushfire smoke affected two previous games, the Thunder finally had some luck with the elements.

Set a revised 96 runs to win off 12 overs in a rain-affected match, the Thunder appeared to be cruising after an opening stand off 66 off 7.3 overs between Alex Hales (47 off 27) and captain Usman Khawaja (22 off 22).

But tidy bowling by Fawad Ahmed and Jhye Richardson left the Thunder needing 12 off the final over from Matthew Kelly.

They scored three off the first two balls before Morris smashed a straight six and a cover drive for four to reach the target at the death.

The win lifts the Thunder to 13 points, one ahead of Perth and into fourth, the position occupied before the game by the Scorchers, who drop to fifth.

Perth need both Brisbane and Hobart to lose their last games, while a defeat for just one of those teams will secure the Thunder a finals berth.

By his own admission, it's been a lean BBL season for Morris.

"There was one stage where I was looking to find the middle of my bat; at one stage, I didn't think my bat had one," Morris said.

"We've done a lot of training. I've probably hit more balls this tournament than I have in any tournament ever."

Thunder left-arm paceman Daniel Sams took a BBL season-record 25th wicket, beating the previous mark held by Kane Richardson.

Rain stopped play for an hour after the Scorchers had reached 4-99 off 15 overs.

The Scorchers' South African quick Morne Morkel received a horrid welcome to the BBL, smashed for 18 in his only over by Hales and Khawaja.

In-form Hales fell just three short of a third-successive half-century and his strong hitting was a marked contrast to the struggles of the normally fast-scoring Scorchers' top order.

Perth managed only four boundaries through the first 10 overs after they won the bat flip on a slow wicket.

Englishman Liam Livingstone, with a strike rate of more than 140 and tallying 27 sixes before Sunday's game, did not hit a boundary in his 27-ball 20.

"That was probably the difference. They were able to target those early overs with the new ball with such a short chase," Scorchers coach Adam Voges said.

"I think if we had our time again, we might have gone a little bit harder in our powerplay."

Perth slumped to 4-64 in the 12th over, but the fifth-wicket pairing of Cameron Bancroft (35 off 25 balls) and Tim David (13 off 10) put on 35 off 22 balls before the rain came.