Melbourne Stars players celebrating after taking a wicket. (Photo/BBL Twitter)

Melbourne [Australia], Feb 6 : Melbourne Stars defeated Sydney Thunder by 28 runs in the Challenger of the Big Bash League (BBL) on Thursday and progressed to the final of the tournament.

Chasing 195, Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales opened the innings for Thunder. The duo put up a 21-run stand for the opening wicket. Hales (8) was run-out by Nathan Coulter-Nile in the third over and sent back to the pavilion.

In the fifth over, Khawaja was bowled out by Coulter-Nile after scoring 23 runs.

Skipper Callum Ferguson (7) was too dismissed cheaply by pacer Haris Rauf in the sixth over. Alex Ross and Chris Morris added a 45-run partnership to provide some stability to the innings. Morris scored 21 runs off 16 balls before he was dismissed by Rauf.

Arjun Nair and Ross built a 58-run partnership to get past the 100-run mark. Meanwhile, Ross scored a half-century.

Adam Zampa scalped Ross in the 17th over. He played a knock of 58 runs off 38 balls. In the same over, Nair too gifted his wicket to Zampa. He smashed 30 off 17 balls including two sixes.

Daniel Sams (3) and Jay Lenton (10) failed to put their side over the line and were departed cheaply. Thunder were only able to score 166/8 in their twenty overs.

For Stars, Rauf clinched three wickets while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa bagged two wickets each.

Earlier, Stars won the toss and elected to bat first. Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin’s knock of 83 runs each guided the side to a massive total of 194 at a loss of two wickets.

Stoinis scored 83 off 54 including seven fours and three sixes while Larkin amassed 83 off 49 studded with nine fours and three sixes.

Stoinis and Nic Maddinson built a 38-run partnership for the first wicket. Chris Morris provided the first breakthrough for Thunder in fourth over. Maddinson scored 11 runs before being caught at deep square by Daniel Sams.

Larkin joined Stoinis in the middle and the duo added 117-run partnership for the second wicket. The latter was bowled out by Morris in the 17 over.

Skipper Glenn Maxwell joined Larkin in the middle and stitched an unbeaten stand of 39 runs. Maxwell remained unbeaten of four runs. Chris Morris bagged both the wickets for Thunder.

Brief scores: Melbourne Stars 194/2 ( Marcus Stoinis 83, Nick Larkin 83*, Chris Morris 2-30) defeat Sydney Thunder 166/8 (Alex Ross 58, Haris Rauf 3-17) by 28 runs.

Sydney Sixers will take on Melbourne Stars in the BBL final at Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday, February 8.


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