Khawaja inspires Thunder to Big Bash glory


Usman Khawaja produced another outstanding innings as Sydney Thunder beat Melbourne Stars by three wickets to win the Big Bash League in Mike Hussey's final game on home soil.

Khawaja has been in sensational form and, having been the only batsman to make two centuries in the BBL this season, the left-hander smashed 70 from only 40 balls to inspire his side to a dramatic victory at the MCG.

Kevin Pietersen (74 off 39) put on a show for a partisan crowd as the Stars posted 176-9 on their home ground, but Ben Rohrer (13 not out) hit a six to seal victory with three balls to spare after yet more heroics from Khawaja 

It was a fitting finale for 40-year-old Thunder captain Hussey, who was given a guard of honour by his brother David's Stars side as he went out to bat and a standing ovation when he was out 18, as a thrilling BBL ended with another classic.

Shane Watson got an early breakthrough by dismissing Marcus Stoinis in the first over after the Stars were put in, but Luke Wright (23) and Pietersen got the Stars going before Watson bowled the English opener with 50 on the board after seven overs.

The powerful Pietersen smashed five sixes and David Hussey (21 from 14) chipped in before he and the former England batsman fell in quick succession.

Spinner Chris Green, who took 2-37, clutched a stunning catch on the boundary to get rid of Evan Gulbis and there were also two run outs as three wickets fell in the last three balls of the Stars innings.

Khawaja hit 14 off the third over from Daniel Worrall and played an array of sublime shots all around the ground to get the Thunder off to a great start.

Pietersen took a good catch to send Jacques Kallis (28) on his way, then Watson (6) failed after being greeted by a hostile reception before Khawaja slapped a full toss to Worrall at point.

Mike Hussey (18) failed to see it through and Andre Russell (10) hit his first ball for six but fell cheaply to leave the Thunder 146-5 with 15 balls remaining, so it was left to Rohrer to get the Thunder over the line with a huge straight six.