Sixers enter semis with three-wicket win

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Sean Abbott’s blistering cameo worth 33 helped Sixers to a three-wicket win.

Both Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars were vying for a win in the last league game of the Big Bash on Saturday (January 21) in order to make it to the top-four, and the Stars, who were enjoying a superior net run-rate got off to a superb start after being put in to bat first. Going strong at 130 for 1, the Stars lost their plot by losing three wickets adding just one run. Failing to recover since, the Stars could only post 156 on the board – a far cry from what they were expected to achieve. Although, Sixers didn’t begin brilliantly, late order brilliance took them home rather comfortably.
Coming out to bat first, Rob Quiney and Luke Wright got the Stars off to a confident start with the former striking two boundaries in the first over itself. Though, Wright is an aggressor himself, it was Quiney who took the charge, hitting three more fours in the fourth over of Johan Botha, to take their side to 38 without any loss in just four overs. In a desperate move, Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques came into the attack at the same time, and the move worked as Quiney fell on the last ball of the powerplay. Before exiting the crease, he had smashed five boundaries and a six to infuse the much-needed spark at the top.
Wright was joined in by the big-hitter Kevin Pietersen and together they rotated the strike with well-run singles, interspersed with boundaries in between. Wright got his first reprieve in the 16th over when Brad Haddin missed a stumping chance down the leg side. The right-hander couldn’t quite capitalise on the same, as he inside edged one onto the pads before the ball trickled onto the stumps, a ball later. Things got worse when Evan Gulbis missed a big heave and Haddin, despite several juggles, broke the stumps down in time to find the batsman short. Two balls later across the over, Seb Gotch edged one behind the stumps as the 39-year-old keeper flung himself to his right to take a stunning catch. Stars had now lost three wickets for just one run.
David Hussey and Pietersen fell in the penultimate over to leave the Stars struggling further, as Ben Dwarshuis picked up both the wickets. In the end, Melbourne could only manage 156 for 8, having slipped from a comfortable 130 for 1 at one stage of the game.
Daniel Hughes and Michael Lumb came out to open the innings for the Sixers, with the former collecting boundaries with ease. But the good start didn’t spill over for too long as Lumb missed a slog in the fifth over to see the Sixers lose their first wicket. Colin Munro, who walked in next, stepped out to Ben Hilfenhaus, only to slap a pull straight to mid on. Hughes and Henriques got together in a partnership to consolidate the innings, but just as the chase was building up smoothly, the Australian all-rounder missed a cut shot off Liam Bowe to depart for 20. Hughes fell the next over and, for a while, it seemed the second innings was following the same route.
With the asking rate hovering around ten an over, Nic Maddinson and Brad Haddin fell one after the other, leaving Sixers at 97 for 5. Sean Abbott walked in next and slammed two fours and a six inside his first nine deliveries. With 26 needed off the last 18, Abbott got stuck into Hilfenhaus, collecting 12 off his over to take Sixers even closer. Botha had been giving him good company till he hit one straight back at Scott Boland, to perish in a rather anti-climatic manner.
Ben Dwarshuis hit the winning runs off the last ball of the penultimate over to seal a semi-final berth for Sixers, and Melbourne Stars, despite their loss, still managed to sneak through, riding on a better net run-rate than their neighbours – Melbourne Renegades.
Brief Scores: Melbourne Stars 156/8 in 20 overs (Luke Wright 62, Kevin Pietersen 39; Ben Dwarshuis 3-25, Nathan Lyon 2-18) lost to Sydney Sixers 160/7 in 19 overs (Daniel Hughes 34, Sean Abbott 33*; Scott Boland 3-37, Evan Gulbis 1-24) by three wickets.

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