Maddinson, Denly help Sixers finish season in style
Sydney Sixers 5 for 190 (Denly 72*, Maddinson 61, Gulbis 2-22) beat Melbourne Stars 5 for 189 (Maxwell 84, Brathwaite 2-31) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sydney Sixers finished their BBL campaign in fourth position after cleaning up their fourth successful run chase on the trot. With the fixtures yet to be played, there is no mathematical way the side will remain in contention for the playoffs, but they averted the train wreck they were on track for after losing their first six games.
Hunting 190 for victory in a highly entertaining match, it was never in doubt for the hosts after Nic Maddinson got motoring in a punishing 108-run stand with Joe Denly, punctuated by the former collecting six boundaries from one James Faulkner over.
Maddinson's match-winning hand of 61 off 26 balls included two sixes that travelled more than 100 metres. English import Denly did the rest with an unbeaten 72, the Sixers home with 15 balls and five wickets to spare.
Earlier, it looked like another player outside Australia's 50-over team, Glenn Maxwell, would be winning headlines on the night when clobbering 84 off 47 balls. It wasn't enough to earn the Stars a victory, but it was a timely reminder to the national coach Darren Lehmann in the commentary box that there are very few better in the white-ball world.
Maxwell on a mission
Elevated to first drop in Kevin Pietersen's absence, Maxwell issued a sign of what was to come by flicking Sean Abbott from off stump over square leg for six. Normal people can't do that. Next ball, he popped him over cow corner. A pair of neat ramps off Carlos Brathwaite reinforced that the right-hander is more than muscle. Then, seemingly offended by part-timer Joe Denly's introduction, he dismissed him over midwicket. The Victorian was flying the best way he knows how.
It was only an exaggerated switch-hit off Nathan Lyon that slowed Maxwell, pinching a nerve in his neck. But soon enough, he was back slaying through cover before hoicking Ben Dwarshuis over the backward square rope to complete a 23-ball half-century.
It didn't end there. Somehow he made room to ping Johan Botha from outside leg stump behind point before locating the same boundary twice more off Abbott. Maxwell didn't quite complete his mission, holing out off Brathwaite on 84, leaving a century on the shelf, but he had made it the Stars' game to lose.
A word for Rob Quiney, who played with equal freedom taking Moises Henriques down before striking Lyon gracefully twice down the ground for six. By the time the offspinner had him stumped, the Stars pair had put on 119 in 59 balls. That foundation was laid.
Sixers fight back at the perfect time
With 150 on the board, six wickets in hand and five overs to come, the Stars were coasting to a 200-plus target. But the departure of the two set men changed the tone of the contest. Sure, 39 runs still came from the final five overs. But five overs also elapsed between the 14th and 19th over where a boundary wasn't struck. Momentum, and all that.
The Sixers won chasing in their final three fixtures and the window was now open for them on a true surface. Even if they would be one down with the bat after Jordan Silk had suffered a serious collarbone injury diving to save a boundary. From nowhere 30 minutes earlier, they were vaguely back in business.
Maddinson powers on with a rare set
With dew in the air, the assessment of Maddinson was that the pitch was getting quick at the right time to take full advantage during the Sixers' Powerplay. They suffered a setback when Daniel Hughes was caught magnificently by Evan Gulbis in the first over, but it didn't dissuade the left-hander from going hard from the get-go. To begin, Daniel Worrall was plonked over his head and all the way by Maddinson. In the next over, Denly did likewise to the spin of Beer to get his night going. When Maddinson then pulled Worrall into the second tier of the grandstand, the party was well and truly started.
But it was the fifth over that mattered most. Even in this inflated era of short-form scoring, it remains rare to see six boundaries in an over. Maddinson was in such good touch that he achieved that against the man adjudged Player of the World Cup just three years ago. Granted, the first of those did come from an edge, but the rest were controlled behind square and thrashed through cover. "Some of the best striking in BBL history" according to Ricky Ponting.
Denly does the rest to finish his Sydney cameo in style
An inside edge was enough for Maddinson to raise his half-century in 22 balls, equalling his personal best. In this environment, 20-year-old left-arm wristspinner Liam Bowe never had a chance, and was pulverised for 21 from his first set. With the stand beyond 100 and the runs required to seven an over, it mattered little that Maddinson fell leg before with the score on 115 with fewer than seven an over now needed.
Moises Henriques started aggressively, tucking into Bowe for another 15 runs from his second over. Denly's 32-ball half-century looked sedate by comparison, but only went to show what a savvy acquisition he was for the Sixers to replace Jason Roy.