Melbourne Stars bounced back win last-over thriller after COVID chaos

Analysis Knight Rider

Melbourne Stars bounced back win last-over thriller after COVID chaos

Melbourne Stars bounced back win last-over thriller after COVID chaos
As the Melbourne Stars recovered from a catastrophic COVID breakout to defeat the Adelaide Strikers in a low-scoring thriller, Joe Clarke smashed his fourth consecutive half-century.

The Stars welcomed back six players at the MCG on Monday night after 13 players tested positive for the virus over the previous week, resulting in two postponed games and successive losses to the Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades.

Stand-in skipper Adam Zampa, who took over for Glenn Maxwell while recovering from a sickness, chose to bowl first and led from the front with 2-24 from four overs as the Strikers were restricted to 9-139 from 20 overs.

As Clarke (83 off 58) failed to find an ally, regular wickets disrupted any momentum the Stars could generate in the run chase.

Clarke took Harry Conway for 14 runs off the 18th over to give the hosts the upper hand, with 31 runs needed from the final three overs.

After surviving a line-ball no-ball call that he spooned to mid-off, he crunched Strikers captain Peter Siddle right back over his head for six to reduce the equation to seven balls from eight.

On the next delivery, Siddle took his wicket, but Afghan spinner Qais Ahmad blasted the first ball of the final over for six, putting an end to any late nerves among the Stars hitters as they slipped home with five balls to spare.

Clarke hit three boundaries and four sixes to add to his previous three innings of 52, 85, and 52, an excellent return considering he had just recently emerged from isolation after acquiring the virus.

Clarke said he was "very proud" of his teammates, who had just completed a seven-day isolation period.

In his debut game at the MCG, Afghanistan great Rashid Khan was the standout of the Strikers bowlers, conceding only 16 runs from four overs while dismissing Joe Burns.

Before the game, the Strikers lost in-form batter Matthew Renshaw to a positive COVID diagnosis, making him the first Adelaide player to get the virus this season.

Wells was cautious for most of his 56-ball stay, but he did take a shine to teenage quick Xavier Crone, who scored 13 runs in his lone over.

The last three balls highlighted the Strikers' innings when speedster Haris Rauf (2-25) bowled Harry Nielsen and Siddle in consecutive deliveries before Conway was run out off the final ball session to complete a team hat-trick.

On a field that favoured spinners, Ahmad (2-21) was also frugal with his four overs on a pitch where the trio of Ahmad, Zampa, and Clint Hinchliffe bowled 12 of the 20 overs.

With the win, the Stars move up to seventh place in the KFC BBL|11 tables, leapfrogging the Strikers.