Sydney Sixers 4 for 143 (Henriques 72, Vince 41) beat Melbourne Stars 5 for 125 (Stoinis 62) by 21 runs on DLS method
Melbourne Stars are beatable after all – they just need to give their opponents a generous helping of assistance to do so. The Stars rested two of their leading pace bowlers Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jackson Coleman from the BBL match at the SCG, and then their captain Glenn Maxwell withheld himself from the contest until the Sydney Sixers were defending a required rate of more than 14 an over.
The result, which ended the Stars’ winning streak at eight games, also served to strengthen the Sixers’ hold on a place in the tournament finals. They were driven to victory in large part by a percussive innings from the home side’s captain Moises Henriques, who hammered no fewer than eight sixes while adding 114 in 50 balls with the ever-elegant James Vince.
Ben Dwarshuis, Tom Curran and Nathan Lyon then played their part with the ball, although it was a halting innings from the out of sorts Nic Maddinson that played a large part in ensuring the Stars would depart Sydney without their ninth win on a row.
Sixers halted by lightning
Overcast and sultry conditions at the SCG made for a somewhat tacky surface to begin with as the Stars bowled first. Dan Worrall’s opening spell brought some useful sideways movement, though when he pitched up, he slipped obligingly into Daniel Hughes’ hitting zone. It was lightning that first caused a suspension in play, before rain followed as the skies opened up from the west of Sydney – storms that had seen Melbourne and also Canberra drenched in hail stones over the past 24 hours.
When the sky cleared, the Sixers were left with 10.5 overs left for 14 in total, with the presence of all 10 wickets in hand offering the possibility of some score enhancement from Duckworth Lewis Stern. Hughes and Josh Philippe were unable to resettle, and fell in the space of the same Sandeep Lamichhane over, bringing Henriques to the middle to join Vince with nine overs remaining.
Henriques the hammer
It was “80s night” at the SCG, an intriguing concept for a format of the game that had its origins in the early 2000s. Henriques, though, was to provide the perfect homage with an innings of bludgeoning power that recalled Ian Botham on an afternoon out for Somerset, or perhaps Lance Cairns and his shoulderless bat against Australia at the MCG. His first target was Lamichhane, taking the 11th over of the innings for 24 runs with the help of a couple other clean hits from Vince. Henriques added to the moment by batting without any headgear.
The replacement pace bowlers Jonathan Merlo and Lance Morris were then taken to task, as 15 and then 26 came from overs 12 and 13. Henriques raced to 72 from 30 balls, with the promise of more in the last. But Worrall returned with another excellent over, slightly reducing the Sixers’ tally by conceding just four and ending Henriques’ stay. Vince’s slipstream 41 had been little less impressive, though both batsmen benefitted from the greasy ball skidding nicely onto the bat.
Waiting for Maxwell
Given the steep target and the limited overs available, a promotion for Maxwell to No. 3 or even top of the order might have been under consideration. However, there appeared at least some desire from Maxwell as captain to grant opportunities to others, meaning Hilton Cartwright opened up with Marcus Stoinis. They did well enough, piling on 35 from the opening three overs including a brutal 22 from Jackson Bird’s second, but when Cartwright gloved Dwarshuis behind, the former Sixer Maddinson found himself trying to find form under considerable pressure.
What followed was a maiden from Dwarshuis, and then a series of increasingly desperate attempts by Maddinson to hit his way out of trouble until he was bowled by the left-armer for a tortured 16 off 18 balls in the 10th over. By this time the required rate was beyond 14 an over, setting up a scenario that guaranteed either another set of Maxwell fireworks or a vital victory for the Sixers as they sought to firm up their place in the BBL finals.
Stoinis fires but too little too late
With Maxwell momentarily thrown by his receipt of an accidental beamer from Dwarshuis, Stoinis raised his sights with 55 required from 18 balls. Nathan Lyon’s first three balls of the 12th over went four, six, six, but as he looped higher and shorter, Stoinis got underneath one for Henriques to hold a steepling catch. With Nick Larkin now for company, Maxwell tried to rouse himself, but an outlandish 27 were still required off the last over.
It was far too many, with Larkin and Maxwell out to skied catches from the first two balls of an over delivered creditably by Curran. The Stars’ winning streak was duly ended at eight games, though it was hard to deduce exactly how much to take out of the result given its various vagaries, not least the shape of the visitors’ batting order.