Khawaja fires Thunder into Big Bash final


Usman Khawaja's unbeaten century led Sydney Thunder to their first Big Bash League final as they beat Adelaide Strikers by eight wickets.

Khawaja - released by Australia to play for the Thunder - was in fine form on Thursday as he raced to three figures in just 55 balls, bringing up the milestone with a huge six over deep square leg.

The opener was key to an impressive chase of 160 - enabling the Thunder to reach their target with 14 balls to spare - as he carried his bat, Henry Nicholls adding an unbeaten 35 to help secure the win.

Earlier Sydney's bowlers had done a fantastic job of restricting Adelaide's explosive batsmen to just 159-7 from their 20 overs, Clint McKay (3-44) the star of the show with three important wickets.

But it will be Khawaja who gets all the plaudits, his 104 not out containing 13 boundaries and three maximums as Sydney cruised into the final, where they will face Melbourne Stars or double defending champions Perth Scorchers.

Before Khawaja's heroics, it was the Sydney bowlers who shone as the top four Adelaide batsmen - Mahela Jayawardene (7), Tim Ludeman (2), Travis Head (23) and Brad Hodge (14) - were removed with just 64 on the board.

Alex Ross (47), Michael Neser (27) and Adil Rashid (14 not out) added late runs to boost their total above 150, but their earlier struggles put paid to any hopes of posting a more formidable total.

Khawaja was quickly on top of the Adelaide bowlers with Jon Holland (0-19) an early victim in the second over as the batsman plundered 15 runs - including two sweet drives to long on.

Even the loss of Shane Watson (7) and Mike Hussey (11) could not derail Sydney's charge to the final, Khawaja and Nicholls enjoying an unbeaten third-wicket stand of 73 as they cruised home.

Khawaja reached 50 off 24 balls, and kicked on from there with a powerful display of batting, something Australia's selectors will be delighted to see ahead of the ICC World T20.