All-round Maxwell crushes Sixers
Melbourne Stars 5 for 200 (Hussey 50*, Maxwell 37, Hazlewood 3-20) beat Sydney Sixers 9 for 123 (Lumb 29, Maxwell 3-26) by 77 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Melbourne Stars clinically beat Sydney Sixers at the SCG by 77 runs, relying on their strength in depth and an all-round show by Glenn Maxwell. Perennial favourites for the title, Stars had failed to make the first two finals. But on the evidence of their first two performances in this tournament, that trend is unlikely to continue.
Having been sent into bat, Stars slumped to 3 for 46 after six overs thanks to a double breakthrough by Josh Hazlewood. The tall right-arm seamer gained steep bounce off the pacey surface, hitting the top of Cameron White's middle stump, before catching first the glove of Brad Hodge and then his outside edge with two brutish deliveries.
But such is the depth and class in the Stars line-up that they could call upon Matthew Wade and David Hussey to mount the rescue mission. The scoring never slowed even as the pair sized up the pace of the surface. They took on Moises Henriques in the 10th over, with two powerful strikes over the offside and a brutal pull shot for six from Wade accelerated the scoring rate and the Stars never looked back.
When Ravi Bopara bowled Wade for 36, the Sixers might have thought they had dodged a bullet. But in walked Maxwell with his show-bag of tricks to take the game away from the home side. Maxwell conjured back-to-back reverse sweeps off Bopara's medium pace for boundaries before smashing the Englishman over midwicket for six.
After playing every shot in the book, and some that will never grace any coaching manual ever written, Maxwell outsmarted himself with his dismissal. The right-hander shaped to scoop Hazlewood, who was the Sixers' lone shining light with the ball, only to change his mind late which resulted in a bunted catch to short third man.
His 37 from 18 deliveries had inflicted enough damage. David Hussey guided the innings through to its completion, reaching a thoroughly deserved 50 off the final ball. The Stars total of 5 for 200 was helped by 22 wides from the Sixers bowlers who all conceded more than nine-an-over, with the exception of Hazlewood.
The chase started strongly. Michael Lumb climbed into Jackson Bird and John Hastings with powerful striking over and through the leg side. But when he and Nic Maddinson fell in successive overs, the pursuit ground to a halt.
Bopara faced 10 balls for just five runs, offering a simple catch to backward point to end his torturous stay.
Marcus North struck the ball sweetly but ambitiously took on the powerful and accurate arm of Maxwell, only to be run out by metres attempting a second run to deep midwicket.
Maxwell was then given the ball and he picked up three wickets with his offspin to put the Man-of-the-Match award beyond doubt.
The Stars had the luxury of leaving both Lasith Malinga and Clint McKay with two overs each up their sleeve as the Sixers fell 77 runs short.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth