Midway through the match, Usman Khawaja said the Thunder needed to forget their losses and play as if it was their “first game” of the season.
And that they did. While Khawaja was not the hero of the evening after making only six runs, Callum Ferguson and Hales found their capes out in the middle to find 69 runs between them.
The Thunder skipper was eventually sent to the sheds for 42 before Sam Billings and Ben Cutting put 33 runs each on the board to assist Hales’ century and hand the Sixers the 234 target.
Noted big hitter Josh Phillippe buckled under the pressure of the huge score and fell to a run-out by Ferguson after making 20. Daniel Hughes was sent for just one before James Vince put a solid 38 on the board.
Making his return to the Big Bash after the Test series, Moises Henriques struck a fine 56 before Jordan Silk managed 42.
Dan Christian rounded out the effort with 21, but the Sixers performance proved not enough to topple the Thunders’ mammoth total.
The Sixers’ loss means the Scorchers inch closer to the table-toppers with the Perth side likely finalists with just two games to go.
Ahead of the fierce battle, both sides were seemingly united ahead of the match in responding to the backlash from Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Cricket Australia’s decision to erase the term Australia Day from their Tuesday Big Bash fixtures.
Veteran Indigenous star Dan Christian took to Twitter ahead of his 100th game to respond to comments from the Prime Minister, who labelled the move “pretty ordinary”.
“@ScottMorrisonMP read the room Mr Prime Minister. @CricketAus are leading the way because your government won’t. There’ll be millions of kids watching our @BBL games on the 26th January, and they’ll see us taking a knee against racism, and promoting inclusion for all. Take note,” he wrote.
Thunder star Usman Khawaja backed up his opponent’s stance, retweeting Christian’s tweet in support and adding his own reply.
“I think for ScoMo to say to CA “a bit more focus on cricket and a little less focus on politics” is pretty petty. CA could say the same thing vice versa but what’s that going to solve. Someone needs to take action to figure out what works for us as a nation. Well said mate,” he wrote.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.