England one-day international (ODI) captain Eoin Morgan smashed a final-ball six to give Sydney Thunder a pulsating win over the Melbourne Stars and keep alive their Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL) season on Wednesday. Morgan, who leaves on Thursday to lead England in the ODI series in India, slammed seamer Ben Hilfenhaus over his head and beyond the boundary ropes for the winning hit in Sydney. Morgan was jumping up and down in jubilation as soon as he got hold of the winning shot to give Thunder their first win of the season. He hit an unbeaten 71 off 50 balls in Thunder’s innings of 168 for four to get the defending champions home after they needed 16 runs off the last four balls.


The Stars built a solid total of 166 for eight, with former England batsman Kevin Pietersen (60 from 37) smashing seven fours and two sixes. A groin strain then prevented Pietersen from taking the field at the start of Thunder’s innings. Morgan came to the crease in the sixth over with the score on 42 for two and paced his charge toward the target. His 50 came from 40 balls and when it came to the crunch — five runs required to win from the final ball — he did the business spectacularly. Morgan returns to captain England in both the one day international and Twenty20 series with India, after opting out of the Bangladesh part of last year’s tour over security fears.

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The 30-year-old Ireland-born batsman has overseen a revival in England’s fortunes in the ODI format since their embarrassing first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

Thunder, who will now be without Morgan, have a 10-day gap until their next match, against the Sydney Sixers at the Sydney Cricket Ground.