Ross, Billings steer Thunder to BBL win

Alex Ross smacked 61no to steer the Sydney Thunder to a seven-wicket win over the Brisbane Heat.
Alex Ross smacked 61no to steer the Sydney Thunder to a seven-wicket win over the Brisbane Heat.

The Sydney Thunder have made a winning start to their BBL campaign, easing to a seven-wicket win over the Brisbane Heat.

The contest looked finely poised when the Thunder slumped to 3-32 chasing the Heat's 8-140 at Manuka Oval, but an unbeaten 109-run stand between Alex Ross and Sam Billings saw them take complete control.

Ross, who top scored with 61 not out off 46 balls to be named player of the match, was in command throughout striking seven fours and two sixes in a masterful display in which he scored freely around the ground.

He said the plan when beginning his innings was to keep it simple.

"We've both played quite a lot of cricket now and we do that role for pretty much all the teams that we play in, that four, five or six role," he said.

"So come together, build a partnership and do all those things that you know - it's right out of the textbook, nothing too crazy.

"The match-ups are the key there ... I like to to try and take the spin down and for [Billings] to attack the quicks."

The Thunder's chase began disastrously when Alex Hales was dismissed off the second ball, chipping a Xavier Bartlett delivery to mid-off.

Matthew Gilkes looked in control, driving the second ball he faced for four through point and flicking another off his pads two overs later for six.

The Thunder then lost Sam Whiteman, who spooned a pull shot down mid-wicket's throat off debutant Heat paceman Liam Guthrie for 12, to leave the side 2-28.

Two balls later it was double delight for Guthrie, who trapped Gilkes lbw dismissing the danger man for 20 off 10 balls.

Sydney were reeling at 3-32 but Billings (45no off 36 balls) played the perfect supporting role for Ross.

The Thunder claimed the win with 17 balls to spare.

Guthrie, who signed for the Heat just days ago, was the only Brisbane player to take multiple wickets.

Earlier, Thunder quicks Daniel Sams and Gurinder Sandhu combined for five wickets.

Star openers Max Bryant and Chris Lynn were each quickly back in the sheds, dismissed for five and nine respectively, before an 83-run stand between Sam Heazlett and Ben Duckett got Brisbane back in the game.

Duckett particularly impressed, with stylish strokeplay helping him make 46 off 35 balls while Heazlett enjoyed two chances - in one Ben Cutting over - in his 42 off 37 deliveries.

Xavier Bartlett (26no) whacked the only six of the innings which came only in the 18th over.

In two key moments of the innings, Sandhu claimed two wickets in the 16th over including the prized scalp of Duckett, while Sams dismissed Heazlett.

Thunder captain Chris Green said winning was most important in the season-opener.

"Obviously there were a couple of missed chances ... it wasn't a completely polished performance but a great way to start our season and kick off our campaign," he said.

Australian Associated Press