Sydney Sixers 2 for 127 (Philippe 52*, Vince 51) beat Brisbane Heat 8 for 126 (Pattinson 27, de Villiers 26, Bird 2-21, Dwarshuis 2-35) by 8 wickets
Brisbane Heat fell into another fearful heap, this time to the Sydney Sixers, to all but surrender a Big Bash League match at the Gabba inside the first 10 overs.
Following on from their loss of 10 for 36 to lose to the Melbourne Renegades, the Heat slid to 5 for 57 in the opening exchanges of their follow-up match to leave AB de Villiers and the tail scrambling for any sort of score. The return of Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith to the Heat and the Sixers attracted much comment before the game, but neither played much more than a peripheral role.
Instead the plaudits went to the Sixers bowlers Steve O'Keefe, Jackson Bird, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Lyon and Tom Curran, before Josh Philippe and James Vince enjoyed the minimal stresses of an undemanding chase on a pitch that did not encourage much in the way of Twenty20 hitting. It was the Heat's sixth consecutive loss at the Gabba.
Heat cooled by spin and speed
A widely hyped meeting between Smith and Labuschagne, after their batting "bromance" during the Test summer, was reduced to sideshow status as the Heat maintained their horrid recent run of performances. It was a slide Labuschagne was unable to arrest in only his eighth game in four seasons with the Heat, a matter of days after his return from India and the ODI team's short tour. Slow, low Indian pitches were less than ideal preparation for the new ball at the Gabba, albeit on a mottled surface that offered both spin and bounce.
Chris Lynn's indifferent record against spin was continued when he tried to force a quicker ball from O'Keefe through point and was bowled, Matt Renshaw scooped straight to short fine leg, and Sam Heazlett was surprised by the steep bounce conjured by Nathan Lyon to pop back a low return catch, before Labuschagne miscued an attempted pull shot off Bird straight into the waiting hands of Smith at mid on. The Heat's viewing area was by this stage a venue for plenty of thousand yard stares, with AB de Villiers left to do what he could with the wreckage.
AB, Pattinson do what they can
A somewhat stupefied Gabba crowd was then subjected to the "spectacle" of de Villiers, Jimmy Peirson and Ben Cutting trying to rebuild by running singles Seldom can de Villiers have played a T20 innings as long as 26 balls without a single boundary, while a tally of just 12 boundaries in total for the innings cannot have been what the broadcasters Seven and Fox had in mind. Peirson was bowled by a cracking off-cutter from Dwarshuis, which straightened off the pitch fro around the wicket to confirm the pitch's capricious nature.
In the end, the only fireworks were provided by James Pattinson, who also bided his time before connecting with a couple of solid blows off Dwarshuis and Curran. A 15-ball innings worth 27 provided some belated cheer for the home crowd, while also inching the Heat up close to the total of 130 that their coach Darren Lehmann thought might be defendable. Might be.
Sixers rattle home
Only early wickets would bring the Heat into the game, but they were to be sorely disappointed as James Vince and Josh Philippe kept their heads. Just nine runs came from the first two overs before Vince tucked into Mujeeb ur Rahman to the tune of 14 runs, and the rate grew steadily from there. The final over of the Powerplay reaped another bounty, this time 13, to lift the Sixers to 0 for 48 from six overs, more or less settling the result already.
All that remained was for Vince to waltz to his first 50 of the tournament, and then exit the stage for Smith to spend some time in the middle opposite Philippe. Both batsmen helped themselves to sweetly timed boundaries off the bowling of Labuschagne, though Smith touched Pattinson behind before the Sixers enhanced their standing in the competition and the Heat stumbled closer to elimination.