The Hurricanes hit form at the right time to make the play-offs, but they crashed out with a crushing defeat at Blundstone Arena on Thursday (January 29).
It will be the Thunder who face Adelaide Strikers in the Knockout clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday after they racked up 197-5 and Hobart were all out for 140 in reply.
In-form batsman Hales, the second-highest run-scorer in the competition, blasted 60 off 37 balls and Khawaja bludgeoned a 34-ball 54 in an onslaught of 103 for the first wicket inside 10 overs.
Hobart never really looked like chasing that down with D’Arcy Short gone for 37 and Matthew Wade just 14, Cook dismissing both openers and finishing with outstanding figures of 4-21.
Chris Morris claimed 3-27 and Daniel Sams, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, 2-24 in an impressive display from Sydney in the field as they eased through to end George Bailey’s career.
THUNDER OPENERS MAKE LIGHTNING START
Hales and Khawaja got the Thunder off to a dream start after Callum Ferguson won the toss, setting about Clive Rose, James Faulkner, Scott Boland and Short.
Back-to-back overs from Rose and Boland cost 17 runs apiece, the latter put onto the roof at deep square leg by Hales after Khawaja was the first to a half-century from only 30 balls.
Faulkner struck Khawaja bang in front with a slower ball in the 10th over before Hales also moved to 50 off 30 deliveries, the English opener going on to blast Qais Ahmad for his third six before falling to Boland.
ELLIS BRINGS SOME CALM AFTER THE STORM
Ferguson ought to have been run out when he was well set after dispatching Short for two boundaries in as many balls before Alex Ross took a liking to the spin of Rose.
Short held on when Ferguson slapped a Rose full toss to him at deep midwicket as the Thunder lost the momentum somewhat before taking 16 off the penultimate over from Faulkner
Nathan Ellis finished off his excellent spell by going for just six off the last over to record figures of 1-18 from four, but Hales and Khawaja’s stand left the Hurricanes facing a huge challenge to stay in the tournament.
COOK COMES TO THE BOIL, BAILEY BOWS OUT
Much was resting on the shoulders of Wade and the big-hitting Short, but Cook had the captain caught behind and also saw the back of his fellow opener.
There was no explosive swansong for Bailey, retiring to become an Australia national selector, as he was sent on his way by Morris to leave Hobart with a mountain to climb at 74-4 in the ninth over.
The excellent Cook also removed Simon Milenko and cleaned up Rose in what was an emphatic win for the Thunder.
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