Sydney Sixers 1 of 85 (Vince 43*, Hughes 41*) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 128 (Green 34*, Abbott 2-23, T Curran 2-32) by nine wickets with nine balls to spare (via DLS method)
A cohesive bowling effort, led by seamers Sean Abbott and Tom Curran, secured Sixers' spot in the semi-finals and all but knocked out the Thunder in the Sydney Smash at a packed SCG. After the bowlers cleverly exploited a two-paced pitch to limit the Thunder to 6 for 128, rain interrupted Sixers' chase multiple times and the target was ultimately revised to 84 in 12 overs. Sixers' England recruit James Vince peeled off this third 40-plus score in four innings, in an unbroken 85-run stand with Daniel Hughes, to overcome the rain and steal the Thunder.
While the Sixers can enjoy more than a week off before they head to the MCG to face the Melbourne Stars in the last league match this season, the Thunder will have to beat table leaders Hobart Hurricanes in their final league match on next Saturday and hope that the Stars lose their last three games, to sneak into the semi-finals.
Hit the deck
Left-arm seamer Ben Dwarshuis fed Thunder captain Shane Watson with a brace of full balls on the pads, which were nonchalantly picked away over the square-leg boundary. Abbott also fed Watson with a leg-stump full-toss, and watched it disappear to the square-leg boundary. He then shortened his length in the same over and had 19-year-old Jason Sangha ramping a catch to Steve O'Keefe at third man.
Curran also hit similar hard lengths - neither driveable nor pullable - and shackled both Watson and Callum Ferguson, restricting the Thunder to 1 for 38 in the Powerplay. Left-arm spinner O'Keefe then got a full ball to grip, turn, and bounce past the outside edge of Watson in a two-run over. Something had to give, and that something was Watson nicking Curran behind for 28 off 24 balls.
Spin to win
O'Keefe then combined with teenage legspinner Lloyd Pope and ran rings around the Thunder middle order. Ferguson could have been dismissed on 20, when he weakly slog-swept O'Keefe against the break and skied it into the Sydney sky, but wicketkeeper Josh Phillipe dropped the swirling ball near the square-leg region. Ferguson added only six runs to his tally before O'Keefe dangled one up wide of off stump and had Ferguson holing out to deep midwicket.
New Zealand allrounder Anton Devcich held on, limpet-like, but struggled to find the boundary. Against O'Keefe and Pope, he mustered only 15 off 16 balls. It was Abbott who made the incision when he returned and made Devcich miscue a scoop to short fine leg. At 4 for 90 at the start of the 16th over, Thunder's innings desperately needed a finishing kick, and Chris Green provided that with a 22-ball 34. No other batsman in the match had a greater strike rate than Green's 154.54. He struck three fours but it was his six hard-run twos that stood out. Curran later closed out the innings with his crafty variations, including the yorker and the back-of-the-hand slower ball.
Vince, Hughes, rain... No Thunder
The Sixers got off to the worst possible start in the chase, Josh Phillipe falling to a hare-brained mix-up off the first ball. Green followed it with four successive dots in the second over to give his side hope. However, Vince dashed them with two monster sixes off legspinner Jonathan Cook and seamer Gurinder Sandhu. Rain then appeared and reappeared as Ferguson hoped that it would break the Sixers' momentum. No way. While Vince continued to tee off against pace, Hughes attacked Thunder's gun bowler Fawad Ahmed to coolly finish off the game, with nine wickets and nine balls to spare.