Big Bash 2014 semi-finals: Tim Paine powers Hobart Hurricanes to 'massive upset'
Stars froze just enough to ensure final step is too far once again...
By Rob Key
Last Updated: 04/02/14 1:06pm
The Stars - who won all eight of their group games - lost their third BBL semi-final in a row as Paine plundered 65 off 52 balls, helping his side sweep past their victory target of 142 with 11 balls to spare.
The Hurricanes will play the winners of the second semi-final between Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers in Friday's final, leaving the Stars to contemplate what might have been.
"It's a massive upset," said Key, who played in the 2009 World Twenty20 for England. "There's no point in playing that well in the group stages because they've played all of their best cricket there.
"The Hurricanes thrashed them, which was very surprising because the Melbourne Stars seemed to have every base covered.
"It was strange captaincy from Cameron White, who didn't really use any of his part-time spinners on pitch that looked like it was taking spin.
"Even at the halfway stage you thought that a total of 140 wasn't a bad score on that deck but the Hurricanes cruised home."
Paine, who struck eight fours, shared a first-wicket stand of 51 with Player of the Tournament Ben Dunk (30 off 20 balls) to put the Hurricanes in the box seat after the Stars had posted 141-8 in their 20 overs thanks largely to 51 off 35 balls from veteran Brad Hodge.
Key felt that the Stars paid the price for a frenetic start to the game which left them on 36-3 after 6.4 overs - Cameron White, Matthew Wade and Luke Wright the key men to fall.
"You can think it's a belter but in the first few overs you then should start working out that the deck isn't very quick and that the ball is spinning a bit, so a total of 140 might be all right," reflected the Kent batsman.
"But then they were poor with the ball. John Hastings has gone at about 5.5 runs an over in this competition with his cutters and slower balls didn't really do any of that, so they were so far behind the eight-ball after the first six overs.
"All credit to Dunk - who has had a standout tournament - but now Paine is starting to come good and he played the innings of substance that they needed today."
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Owais Shah, who has played 22 BBL games for the Hurricanes, added: "Paine stepped up. He got in with Dunk and they scored 51 runs in the first 5.5 overs.
"After Dunk got out Paine played proper cricket shots; he added a little bit of his own range of Twenty20 strokes but it was a solid innings with plenty of ones and twos. As he went on he got better and better and the more boundaries he started to hit.
"I think 140 was an average score on that ground but what surprised me was that the opposition hardly bowled any cutters or their spin options - Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hodge, David Hussey or Cameron White.
"It was really bizarre. When the Hurricanes were bowling they under-used Shoaib Malik and Cameron Boyce - but that's the way it worked out and the Hurricanes have caused a huge upset."
While the Hurricanes can look forward to playing in the Champions League T20, the Stars are left to reflect on their third BBL semi-final in a row.
After losing to Perth Scorchers by 11 runs in BBL01 and the same team in BBL02 by eight wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method, Key says the Melbourne outfit have to set the record straight soon.
"We've seen it so many times with different teams who get to a point but can't go any further," said Key. "South Africa are a great side but they can't quite get over the line in an international tournament.
"Once it happens twice, three times it starts becoming a problem. You are not as free as you want to be and you start looking at everything you could lose."
He added: "After winning every game in the group stages as the Stars did, you can either think 'right, we're in great form' or you can think 'we're due to lose one here' and then you just freeze a little bit, which is almost what they did."
Watch the second BBL semi-final between Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers from 8.30am on Wednesday on Sky Sports 2.