It might've been his slowest ever T20 half-century, but Alex Hales' 80 off 56 balls has guided the Sydney Thunder home against the Hobart Hurricanes, at the neutral venue of the MCG as the KFC BBL's fixture shake-up kicked into gear.
Hales' knock was his highest score of the season, and his second consecutive half century, shaking off a slow start to explode after reaching his milestone to comfortably see his side home.
Stand-in Thunder skipper Jason Sangha provided great support with a comfortable 35 from 31 to continue his strong form, as the Thunder reached the modest 'Canes total of 139 one wicket down.
The Hurricanes won the bat flip and opted to make first use of what looked a dry MCG wicket, however started slowly and lost fill-in opener Caleb Jewell (4) cheaply when he skied one off Nathan McAndrew in the third over.
Fresh off another memorable BBL|11 innings with 93 against the Brisbane Heat on Saturday night, Ben McDermott loomed as the key wicket as he worked his way into his innings, playing similarly circumspect early on to how he has in some of his brutal knocks this campaign.
Both he and new partner Peter Handscomb struggled to get into full flow as the Thunder bowlers continually took pace off the ball and utilised the slowness of the pitch, however an enormous six over long-on and a couple of other boundaries via deft touch from McDermott helped tick the scoreboard along.
McDermott appeared to be setting up another scintillating innings but when the current BKT Golden Bat leader holed out to Ben Cutting at long-on for 38, the 'Canes appeared vulnerable with just 62 on the board at the halfway mark.
Harry Brook, returning from two matches on the sidelines as a close contact to a COVID case, was sent in ahead of the now third highest run-scorer in the BBL's history, D'Arcy Short, and was unable to rectify his sluggish form this season as he departed soon after for just two.
His dismissal did bring Short to the crease and despite his uncharacteristically low strike rate this season, his side was in desperate need of some vintage form from the left-hander.
When Handscomb (21 off 25) succumbed to young leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha (1-22 off four) courtesy of some sharp work behind the stumps by Baxter Holt, Hobart were reeling at 4-78 off 12 overs as the Thunder bowlers took total control of the contest.
The next few overs were no easier for Short and new batter Tim David as dots and ones were frequent, with David's top-edge to the third-man boundary in the 17th the first four in more than 40 deliveries.
Only in the 18th over, the second of the power surge, did the 'Canes create some momentum as Short struck three consecutive boundaries, lifting the total to 116 with just two overs to go.
He was out the next over for 29 from 24 deliveries when Jason Sangha held onto a well-judged catch, however a pair of sixes down the ground by Englishman Jordan Thompson (15 not out) helped at least give the Hurricanes a total to bowl at as they finished on 6-139.
Each Thunder bowler was economical, with McAndrew and Gurinder Sandhu both picking up two wickets.
Matthew Gilkes got the Thunder off to a strong start in reply, striking four boundaries in his short innings, before running past a wide Short delivery to be stumped for 19.
Hurricanes captain Handscomb, filling in for the indefinitely absent Matthew Wade, employed spin duo Short (1-9 off three) and Sandeep Lamichhane in tandem after the opening four powerplay overs, putting the clamps on a scratchy Hales and new to the crease Sangha.
He might've wondered whether a slip could have been appropriate as no less than four edges came off the wrist spin bowlers, seemingly the only time the Thunder were scoring through this period as the nicks continually raced to or near the vacant third-man boundary.
It was clear the slow bowlers were going to be the key to a remarkable defence by the Hobart side, and they even picked up the Bash Boost point by one run, as the Thunder sat on just 62 from 10 overs, and the game appeared evenly poised.
But Hales proved the value of not throwing one's wicket away, as he took a particular liking to part time off-spinner David, and then finished the run chase in imperious fashion as he struck seven boundaries in just two overs to reach the target with 16 balls to spare.
It firmly entrenches the Thunder in second spot on the ladder, while the Hurricanes remain in fourth position.
The two sides will play in a return fixture at Marvel Stadium in three days' time, where Hobart will be looking to exact revenge and push their way further up the ladder for a more favourable finals match up.