Usman Khawaja has scored 86 to help the Sydney Thunder to a BBL season-saving three-run win over the Perth Scorchers.
Going by gut instinct and the seat of his pants is proving a successful T20 formula for Usman Khawaja, who has made a triumphant return to cricket's shortest format.
The in-form left-hander followed up his 171 in the final Ashes Test with a classy 85 off 51 balls in Thursday night's three-run win over the Perth Scorchers at Spotless Stadium.
An unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 137 between Khawaja's Test colleague Cameron Bancroft (75 not out off 56 balls) and Hilton Cartwright (65no off 41) almost stole the match for the Scorchers.
Thursday's knock was Khawaja's first for the Thunder since scoring 70 in the 2016 final.
He struck successive sixes off England veteran Tim Bresnan, pulled and swept with power and hit some majestic shots down the ground, mixing conventional strokes with improvised shots.
"Unless you hit the ball an absolute mile very cleanly, you kind of have to be a little bit unconventional," Khawaja said.
"I try to hit the ball 360 (degrees all around the field) when I'm batting.
"I literally go by the seat of my pants, I go by my gut and don't try and think too much.
"I try to look at the field and when the ball comes down, I know where the gaps are, I know where I'm trying to hit it."
Khawaja was the only Thunder batsman to score over 25
He carried on from where he left off in his last T20 appearance for Thunder in their 2016 title win, when he notched two centuries and two fifties in his four innings in that tournament.
Thunder remain in sixth spot, but move to within two points of fourth, while the Scorchers stay second.
Perth required 74 off the final five overs. Needing 24 off the last, Cartwright took 10 off the first two balls from Mitch McClenaghan but the Scorchers fell just short.
The Scorchers successfully reached a target of 186 against the Renegades earlier in the week in Perth but Thursday's chase got off to a disastrous start.
Will Bosisto fell in the second over and they lost a wicket in the fifth, sixth and seventh overs to crash to 4-35.
The wickets were shared among four bowlers with paceman Gurinder Sandhu (1-21) wobbling the ball about and leggie Fawad Ahmed (1-19) also asking plenty of tough questions.
Bancroft, who hit his highest T20 score, was the only Scorcher to get into double figures in the first 11 overs.
"We just quite couldn't get enough big overs in,' Bancroft said.
"But to be able to get as close as we did, I guess that's a really good thing considering the wickets that we lost early, but overall very disappointing."