Dominant openers raze Sixers
Adelaide Strikers 136 for 1 (Ludeman 71*, Klinger 53) beat Sydney Sixers 135 for 6 (Smith 58, Henriques 32, Tait 2-13) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Sixers, the defending Big Bash League champions and the recent Champions League winners, were humbled by the Strikers to the tune of 9 wickets at the Adelaide Oval.
It was Sixers' third successive loss, and the Strikers' third win of the tournament, as they announced themselves as genuine title contenders.
Sixers' decision to bat first backfired almost immediately when they slumped to 2 for 10. Former Australian spinner Brad Young, aged 39 years and 304 days, was picked for his first domestic fixture in almost a decade and picked up the first wicket of the match. Daniel Smith sliced an attempted drive to Callum Ferguson at point. Steve O'Keefe ran himself out when he took on the arm of Johan Botha at mid-off. It was the first of two direct hit run-outs for Strikers' captain in the field.
In between, Botha managed his bowlers very well. He had a fair arsenal at his disposal. Shaun Tait thundered in and bowled consistently at 145kph, Kane Richardson and Matt Johnston both swung the ball at a lively pace, and his spinners, Young and Cameron Boyce, besides himself, all varied in age and style but bowled with control and guile.
Brad Haddin and Steve Smith came together to try and conquer the Strikers attack and resurrect the innings. They managed just one boundary in seven overs before Smith found the rope twice off Botha and then clubbed 15 runs off Kieron Pollard in the 11th over. Haddin struggled throughout, eventually being dismissed off Johnston for 22 off 30 balls, with just one boundary.
Smith continued on to a well-made half century. But he was run out when he ran from the non-strikers on the quality of Moises Henriques' drive rather than his loud call of "no".
Tait returned to deliver an over of rapid inswinging Yorkers and claimed two wickets. He first destroyed Henriques' stumps and then bruised Jeevan Mendis' toes in trapping the Sri Lankan lbw.
The Sixers' total of 6 for 135 looked well short of a commanding total, and Tim Ludeman and Michael Klinger made light work of it with a smartly built 125-run opening partnership. Neither is renowned as a Twenty20 specialist, but they have been productive throughout the tournament thus far.
Ludeman has been thrust into the opening role in the absence of Phil Hughes, and has thrived. His 71 from 43 balls featured seven fours and three sixes. He struck length balls powerfully over the leg side, possesses the poise and skill to execute the ramp shot with stunning regularity, but also produced some impressive strikes over cover and backward point. Klinger was the silent partner in making 53 from 52. But his great skill is his consistent scoring in all formats. He rarely, if ever, is contained. His dismissal was out of character, a skip-down the-track and miss at O'Keefe, but the job was all but done by then.
Despite Christmas being less than 48 hours away, neither side gets a significant break with the Sixers hosting the Hurricanes on Boxing Day while the Strikers host the Melbourne Stars in a big clash on December 27.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth