When it counted, Adelaide Strikers struck out big time. And the Sydney Thunder put together their best performance of the men's Big Bash season to upset the hosts at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.
Earlier today, the women's Thunder team also marched into the final after defending a smallish total against the Perth Scorchers. But they'd been the table-toppers in the regular season and their win was expected. The blokes were a different story.
The Sydney Thunder are the perennial cellar dwellers of Big Bash cricket. They'd never made the finals until this year and only limped in this season on run rate, after wasting a 3-win start to the season. But on paper they're strong. If they could just convert that potential into performances, they'd really be something.
The Adelaide Strikers, by contrast, were surprise ladder-leaders this year. They're not long on big names but they've got a team full of players -- many quite unorthodox -- who somehow get the job done.
Tonight they were terrible. You got the feeling Adelaide might have used up all their miracles this year, and so it proved. They were listless with the bat and stumbled their way to 159. The Thunder gobbled up those runs like a tourist quaffing free Chardonnay in the Barossa.
Usman Khawaja led the way with an unbeaten 104 off 59 balls. Finally free from injury, he is in irresistible form at the moment and would be one of the first picked in the Earth team to take on Mars in any form of the game.
The Thunder's next opponent will be either the Melbourne Stars or Perth scorchers, who play Friday. The winner of that match will host the final on Sunday. But you wouldn't bet on the away team winning the final after Thursday's performance -- especially with the added motivation of sending Thunder captain Mike Hussey out a winner in his last game of professional cricket.
The Sydney Thunder have always had big names. Now they've finally got a big game too.
As for Adelaide, the city probably has a big collective headache right about now.