Henriques helps Sixers to BBL title
Sydney Sixers 3 for 158 (Henriques 70, O'Keefe 48) beat Perth Scorchers 5 for 156 (Marsh 77*, Lee 2-21) by seven wickets
The Sydney Sixers began the Big Bash League as one of the least fancied sides but they won the tournament after Moises Henriques set up their chase in the final against the Perth Scorchers. In front of a WACA crowd desperate to see the state's first silverware - albeit not for the Warriors - in nearly a decade, the Sixers spoiled the party and won by seven wickets.
Mitchell Marsh had excited the Perth fans with a powerful innings of 77 after Marcus North chose to bat, but Brett Lee helped contain the Scorchers to 5 for 156, which was a gettable, though challenging target. Henriques and Steve O'Keefe put together a 110-run opening stand in the chase and it was a start the home side was unable to pull back.
A pair of wickets from Ben Edmondson late in the game gave the Scorchers a sniff, as the Sixers needed 22 from the final three overs. But the Sixers captain Steven Smith procured three boundaries and 15 in total from the next over, a poor one from Nathan Rimmington, and from there it was all very straightforward for the visitors.
They reached their target with seven balls to spare, Smith striking the winning boundary down the ground off Ben Edmondson to finish unbeaten on 21 with Ben Rohrer on 3. Led by the 40-year-old Stuart MacGill and fellow veteran Brett Lee, the Sixers players streamed on to the field to celebrate their triumph, which came with no international imports in the final.
Instead, it was two local allrounders who set the chase on the right path. O'Keefe struggled early, swinging wildly and missing plenty of deliveries as he battled to find his rhythm, but gradually he started to find the middle of the bat. O'Keefe drew confidence from a flat pull for six off Marsh's medium pace, although he was still well behind the tempo of his partner Henriques, who brought up his half-century when O'Keefe had only 21.
Henriques was especially brutal against the spin of Michael Beer, striking a pair of consecutive sixes over long-on and long-off, and he found gaps all around the ground. On 70 from 41 deliveries, Henriques was tricked by the 40-year-old spinner Brad Hogg, who saw Henriques advancing and sent the ball down the leg side for Luke Ronchi to complete the stumping.
O'Keefe kept the chase going well until, on 48, he scooped a catch to short fine leg off Edmondson, two balls after Nic Maddinson (10) had also skied a catch. But Smith and Rohrer ensured the win for the Sixers, a victory that was also due to the bowling of Lee, whose 2 for 21 from four overs helped restrict the Scorchers to a manageable total.
Lee began in the perfect way, with two wickets from the first over of the match. Herschelle Gibbs pulled the first ball of the game straight into the hands of deep square leg and later in the over, Ronchi took a big swipe and was caught behind to leave the Scorchers at 2 for 2. Marcus North steadied the home side until he top-edged a sweep off MacGill on 22.
However, Marsh and Paul Collingwood formed a useful 62-run partnership, Collingwood paddling sweeps and reverse sweeps to cleverly find the gaps while Marsh used his strength to clear the boundary four times. Marsh took 12 off an Henriques over and launched a monster six over long-on off the bowling of O'Keefe.
O'Keefe gave Marsh a life on 55 when he put down a chance at midwicket and in the next over, Marsh made the Sixers pay with a pair of sixes off Mitchell Starc. But Starc grabbed two wickets, Collingwood for 32 and Simon Katich for 12, and Marsh's 77 not out from 57 deliveries was comfortably the standout performance.
In the end, it wasn't enough, as Henriques and O'Keefe made up for their lapses with the ball and in the field. Henriques was named Man of the Match.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here