The match between Hobart Hurricanes and Northern Knights was expected to be a close encounter. After all, both sides had registered thumping wins in their respective previous encounters. However, the match turned out to be quite an anti-climax as only one side dominated the clash. Both with the bat and ball, the Hurricanes were supreme. But for the first few overs of the game, the Hurricanes dominated the match throughout. Their bowling performance was exceptional, and at the end of the day, they were deserved winners. As for the Knights, it was a return to earth for them, after the high-flying victory earlier.
It was Hurricanes' batting that set up the victory for the Aussie side. Ben Dunk and Tim Paine struggled early on while batting first. In fact, the first five overs produced very few runs. Dunk's dismissal following his struggles made matters worse for the Hurricane as Tim Southee and Trent Boult kept things under control for the initial overs. To their credit, the Hurricanes kept their cool, and were duly rewarded in the second half of the innings. Once the batsmen got their eye in, there was no stopping them. It was nothing short of a scintillating batting performance from the Hurricanes.
It was the second wicket partnership between Paine and Aiden Blizzard that turned things around for the Hurricanes. Once they got their eye in, both managed to tear the bowling apart. Paine, in particular, lifted his game very well after riding the tough wave initially. Blizzard, the hero of the game against Cape Cobras, was lucky again as he was dropped early on, but he credibly went on to play another high-quality knock. Again, there were strokes all over the park, and the Knights were clueless. There were question marks over Shoaib Malik's batting following his recent poor form, but he displayed his worth on Tuesday with some spectacular hitting towards the end of the innings.
Hurricanes' bowling was as good as their bowling, if anything only better. Of course, they were aided by the fact that they had a big score to defend. Still, one great knock can turn the tide around in a T20 game, and this is where the Hurricanes were brilliant. Ben Hilfenhaus, in particular, was high class at the top of the innings. His three-wicket spell derailed the Knights' chase, and they were never in the hunt after that. Xavier Doherty also chipped in with crucial wickets, Doug Bollinger ran through the tail, but it was undoubtedly Hilfenhaus' burst that set up the match for the Hurricanes. They were unstoppable once Hilfenhaus put them on top.
Knights struggled in the game because their batting and bowling could not stand up to the challenge presented by the Hurricanes. They have been heavily dependent on Boult and Southee with the ball. Against the Hurricanes, Boult was taken to the cleaners while Southee was economical without proving lethal. The rest did not make any impact. Similarly, with the bat, their dependence on openers Anton Devcich and Kane Williamson cost them. Once the openers fell early, only veteran Scott Styris showed some resistance. It was clearly not enough.
--By A Cricket Analyst