Appetizers were meant to set up for a bigger appetite, but if the second semifinal was anything to go by, it would have already filled many to the brim with the wholesome entertainment that it had to offer. Sneaking through in what was a nerve-jangling affair, Sydney Sixers set their final date with the Perth Scorchers on Saturday.
Much to the delight of the franchise, the joy for Sydney doubled as the Sixers took the steam out of Heat to prevail in a tight super over contest. In the super over though, Moises Henriques showed his might by despatching a couple of sixes and a four off the bowling of Ben Cutting to help Sixers post 22 in the one-over showdown. In what is cricket’s own man-to-man marking where one pits its best bowler against the opposition’s best batsman, Heat went to Cutting to challenge Henriques in the Super over, who had hit a 24-ball fifty just an hour ago. Shredding Cutting’s over into tatters, Henriques once again put the Sixers back on top.
When Sixers came out in their defense, Sean Abbott buckled up as the goalkeeper to Brendon McCullum’s big striking, and he wasn’t helped when Botha dropped a straightforward catch at long-on. As if Super overs weren’t draining enough, the result which would determine the second finalist heated things up further.
Cutting, who had come out to partner McCullum, had his opportunity of redemption but could face only one ball as the New Zealander took up the mantle himself, albeit to score only seven in the first four balls faced. With 15 needed off the last two, Sixers didn’t mind being hit for a last ball six, which didn’t stop them from breaking the doors down to enter the final.
Chasing the first target of 168 to win, Sixers were helped by a muscular 99-run partnership between Moises Henriques and Daniel Hughes before a landslide ensued.
Sixers couldn’t have started their response in a poorer fashion, as they lost Nic Maddinson in the first over itself. Colin Munro, who walked in next, turned up the heat by hitting four fours inside his first eight deliveries. Munro’s sparkle died down rather quickly when he mistimed a big hit to mid off in the fourth over. From 34 for 2 to 133 for 3, Hughes and Henriques hit nine fours and three sixes to carry Sixers well ahead in the race.
The duo ran well between the wickets, and mixed it well with boundary hits to release the pressure of a big-match run chase. With only 35 needed from the last five odd overs, Hughes went back without taking his side through as he mistimed an attempted lofted shot to mid off. Michael Lumb perished when he was deceived by a well-disguised wrong one from Mitchell Swepson. To make matters worse, Henriques threw his wicket too, leaving Sixers in a soup.
Sixers lost four wickets for just 12 runs, still needing 23 runs off the final three overs. Johan Botha brought his nerves of steel to the display when he unleashed three boundaries in the penultimate over, keeping his side alive. Cutting, who took the ball for the final over, constricted Sixers to just two runs off the first three balls. Botha, who had looked ice-cool in response thus far, played a bizarre reverse-hook to glove it to the keeper.
With three needed off the final ball, Ben Dwarshuis miscued a pull to land at mid-wicket which was left unmanned, giving Sixers the opportunity to clinch two.
Earlier in the game, Sixers, who didn’t tamper with their playing combination for the big clash, won the toss and opted to field. Opening the innings alongside Brendon McCullum, Jimmy Peirson went hell for leather striking three boundaries inside the first two overs. In a bid to find the fence again, he miscued a heave across the line off the bowling to Abbott, to sky a simple catch to Brad Haddin.
The New Zealand powerhittter, almost on cue, took over from his opening partner, hitting a six off the very next ball. Sam Heazlett was the first one to fall prey to Nathan Lyon’s bowling, before the offspinner wreaked havoc.
McCullum scored his runs at a brisk pace, collecting regular boundaries to maintain the heat on the Sixers. Lyon deprived the New Zealander of a fifty when he pulled one straight to the mid-wicket fielder on 46.
Alex Ross and Joe Burns fell in the 14th over as Heat lost the plot midway, to be recovered by Marnus Labuschagne and Jack Wildermuth. The 51-run stand for the seventh wicket propelled Heat to 167.
Brief Scores: Brisbane Heat 167/9 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 46, Jack Wildermuth 29; Sean Abbott 4-40, Nathan Lyon 4-23) tied with Sydney Sixers 167/8 in 20 overs (Moises Henriques 64, Daniel Hughes 46; Mark Steketee 2-21). Sixers won the one-over eliminator.