Shane Warne's Melbourne Stars are in asendancy after comeback victory over Sydney Thunder, says Ravi Bopara
Ravi Bopara says that the Melbourne Stars will be a tough side to beat in the Big Bash semi-finals.
Last Updated: 08/01/13 4:15pm
The Stars' last-four hopes seemed all but over as the Thunder powered to 62-1 off 7.2 overs in pursuit of a victory target of 146, with skipper Chris Gayle thumping the bowling to all parts.
The West Indies big-hitter clubbed fifty off 25 balls but when he fell for 65 off 43 deliveries to make the score 91-3, the Thunder capitulated with seven wickets falling for just 41 runs.
England all-rounder Bopara told Sky Sports: "We thought Gayle was going to take them out. The Thunder should have won from that position that they were in.
"They scored 59 from the first six overs it should be a doddle from there but you've got to give credit to the bowlers as well.
"When they started bowling slower balls at Gayle that's when things seemed to change. He got his first 50 off 25 balls but off the next 18 he only got 15 runs.
"This win will have done a lot for their team belief. Winning from a losing position helps you gel as a team because the most important thing is believing in each other as team-mates."
The Stars won without the help of skipper Shane Warne, who had to watch from the sidelines after being fined and banned for one game following his on-pitch confrontation with West Indian Marlon Samuels, of the Melbourne Renegades. Read the story here.
Former England all-rounder Dominic Cork said the Stars' success over the Thunder owed a great deal to the influence of Australian legend Warne, and his will to win.
"Even though he wasn't out there, Shane Warne still makes his team believe that they can win whatever situation they are in and that's exactly what they did," said Cork.
"The great thing is we're going to see Shane, one of the masters, in the semi-finals and we'll look forward to that."
He added: "It was a great comeback. When Gayle was going ahead I was saying 'they can't lose this, the Thunder now - but it was brilliant from the Stars'.
"It was disappointing from the Thunder because once Chris Gayle gets going you think you go and win the game but the Stars just crept over and got themselves into the semi-finals.
"Given the form that the Thunder have shown in this competition, not winning a game, as an opposition you know when you play against a team like that that if you get one wicket you never know.
"They were still completely out of the game. The Thunder only required 39 runs off 30 balls in that last five overs and they had five wickets left but they panicked. To lose is poor from the Thunder but very good from the Stars."
The Big Bash continues on Sky Sports when the Sydney Sixers take on the Melbourne Renegades at 7.55am on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.