Melbourne, December 19: Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja made rapid half-centuries as Sydney Thunder beat defending champions Melbourne Renegades by six wickets at GMHBA Stadium.
The Thunder beat the much-fancied Brisbane Heat in the opening match of the tournament on Tuesday (December 17) and they were too good for the Renegades in Geelong.
New signing Shaun Marsh top scored with 42 before he was brilliantly caught by Daniel Sams, who also took 2-26, as Melbourne posted 169-5 after winning the toss.
Arjun Nair claimed 2-32 to restrict the Renegades in their first match with Michael Klinger as coach and the Thunder reached their target with two balls to spare.
Hales (68 from 38 balls) and Khawaja (66 off 46) put on 99 for the first wicket to set Sydney well on their way to victory, which was secured despite impressive displays with the ball from Harry Gurney (2-26) and the wicketless Kane Richardson (0-18).
MARSH MAKES HIS MARK BEFORE SAMS STUNNER
Big things are expected of Marsh after he left Perth Scorchers to join the holders in a multi-year deal.
The experienced left-hander looked in great touch in his first outing for his new side, striking a six and finding the ropes five times, but he was on his way when Sams produced a stunning catch on the deep midwicket boundary to give Nair a second wicket.
Sam Harper and Aaron Finch got Melbourne off to a flyer with an opening stand of 55 from five overs, but Nair dismissed the captain after the excellent Sams saw the back of wicketkeeper-batsman Harper.
KHAWAJA AND HALES PUT THUNDER WELL ON COURSE
Sydney restricted the Renegades to 80 runs off their last 10 overs thanks to some disciplined bowling and it was clear the champions' total was insufficient as Khawaja and Hales piled on the runs.
The openers took the Thunder to 74 without loss at the halfway mark of the run chase, with Khawaja having much more of the strike, slog-sweeping Cameron Boyce for six and striking eight fours before falling to Gurney.
Hales took centre stage with Khawaja gone, the powerful right-hander clattering Boyce and Dan Christian into the stands prior to departing when he struck Nottinghamshire team-mate Gurney to Richardson at deep midwicket.
SLOPPY RENEGADES MADE TO PAY
As good as Khawaja and man-of-the-match Hales were with the bat, the Renegades did not do themselves any favours.
Skipper Finch was among those guilty of gifting the Thunder boundaries with sloppy fielding.
Alex Ross sealed victory with a fierce straight drive off the final over from Melbourne new boy Richard Gleeson, who snared Callum Ferguson lbw and ran Matt Gilkes out on debut.