All-round Hurricanes ease to big win
Hobart Hurricanes 3 for 169 (Jaques 73, Birt 65) beat Sydney Sixers 9 for 127 by 42 runs
The Hobart Hurricanes are probably the most unassuming and underrated side in the Big Bash League, but they are fast becoming the team to beat after another polished all-round display to dispose of the Sydney Sixers by 42 runs.
They may lack the big-name star-power but they make up for it with a well-balanced team that executes a tried and tested Twenty20 formula. It is no surprise that they have won two of two.
Just like in Perth on Sunday, Xavier Doherty won the toss and elected to bat on what looked a good surface at the Bellerive Oval. Eyebrows were raised around the ground as they rolled to the half-way point of their innings at a pedestrian six-an-over.
But, just as in Perth, the plan was to leave wickets in hand for a second half assault. At 1 for 63 after 10 overs, having lost only Jonathan Wells to the effective part-time spin of Dom Thornely, the scene was set for Phil Jaques and Travis Birt. In the eleventh over they let fly; Dwayne Bravo conceded 20 runs. Birt smashed two fours and a six before Jaques cut the last ball for four.
Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill curtailed the pair to just 11 runs from the next 12 balls but unlike Perth when panic sparked a collapse of 8 for 39, the pair of left-handers kept their powder dry before targeting Moises Henriques. Five fours and a six were dispatched in two overs the Sixers all-rounder will quickly forget. Birt and Jaques both rocketed past 50 in the process.
Their 107-run stand was broken Mitchell Starc, as he managed to snare Birt for 65 (from 41 balls) with a clever slower bouncer, but the damage was done. Starc also claimed Jaques for 73 with the third ball of the 20th over, but only after Jaques had steered him to fine leg for four and hit him over midwicket for 98-metre six.
The Hurricanes defended 140 with ease against Perth, so 3 for 169 was a luxury total. Again, they opened with a mix of off-spin from Jason Krejza and out-swing from Ben Hilfenhaus. Again, it worked perfectly as they each knocked a batsman over with the score on seven - Peter Nevill missed an innocuous straight delivery from Hilfenhaus, Michael Lumb did the same off the very next ball from Krejza.
Stand-in Sixers captain Steve Smith and 20-year-old Nic Maddinson steadied the ship with a 57-run partnership. They rode their luck but also played some attractive strokes. They took four boundaries from Hilfenhaus' third over. Maddinson showed his immense talent, hitting two of those fours off consecutive deliveries to the cover fence - one over the top, the other along the ground.
But again the Hurricanes stuck to their formula and came up trumps. Spin was ordered in from both ends at the halfway mark, and Doherty and Krejza removed Smith and Maddinson in back-to-back overs to regain control.
Then, the local cult-hero Rana Naved-ul-Hasan entered to bowl at the death. He took 4 for 6 in 11 balls to close out the contest. This is something Tasmanian fans have become accustomed to since he signed up as their star import three seasons ago. Three of Rana's wickets were bowled and he nearly managed his second hat-trick in Australia.
Birt was named Man-of-the-Match but, in reality, the sum of all parts was greater than any one contribution for the Hurricanes. The opposite could be said for the Sixers. Only three of their players reached double-figures with the bat, and they managed just three wickets with the ball despite eight of their XI having represented their country.