Maddinson 61 leads Sixers to victory
Sydney Sixers 4 for 167 (Maddinson 61) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 166 (Khawaja 66, Warner 50, Henriques 2-24) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Apart from Australia winning the Ashes, there have been few other projects more worried over in the administrative corridors of the game in the country than the effort to build a more competitive Sydney Thunder. Bottom of the table in each of the first two instalments of the tournament and winless last season, the team based in the western melting pot of Australia's largest city has much to live up to after an off-season of regeneration.
Now boasting Michael Hussey as captain, David Warner and Michael Clarke on their books, and a pair of sturdy English internationals in Chris Woakes and Eoin Morgan in place of the expensive Chris Gayle, the Thunder are a notably improved squad. They duly pushed on to their highest BBL score batting first against the blue blood Sydney Sixers at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but were unable to restrict their more fancied opponents in the chase.
Warner and Usman Khawaja, who tweaked a hamstring while batting and is a doubt for the Thunder's second game on December 27, gave their team an ideal start but the problems of previous seasons - lack of even contributions - returned to haunt the middle order. By contrast, the Sixers had a decent start from Nic Maddinson, before handy innings down the order took them home in front of 18,180 spectators.
The pitch at the SCG was mottled and arguably a poor surface for Twenty20 combat, offering some spiteful bounce and sideways movement for seamers in addition to variable pace. Maddinson was struck more than once by Dirk Nannes but hammered enough clean blows in between to pass 50, with a languidly pulled six into the Members Stand the best hit of the lot.
His dismissal gave the Thunder some chance, but the captain Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and the England allrounder Ravi Bopara held their nerve. The Thunder's major shortfall in defending their total was the fact that while their pacemen are all of a high standard, the spin duo of Carl Sandri and Blake Dean lack the incisiveness.
That pair had sat nervously on the boundary's edge as Khawaja and Warner took little time getting into stride. Winded by one short ball from Brett Lee in the opening over, Khawaja soon improved his timing, while Warner maintained the momentum of impressive Ashes form with a series of percussive blows.
They were helped by some indifferent fielding from the Sixers. Khawaja was turfed low by Daniel Smith behind the stumps, while Steve O'Keefe missed a one-handed return catch offered by Warner. The runs flowed rapidly, and at 0 for 116 in the 11th over, a tally beyond 200 looked probable.
But the unlikely intervention of Mark Cosgrove, who tempted Warner to sky a catch, swung the momentum. In dramatic fashion , after Khawaja's 66 and Warner's 50, no other Thunder batsman reached double figures as the innings petered out. None of Hussey, Morgan or Woakes could make an impact, and the total only passed 160 in the end through a bold blow by Sandri, who swatted his first ball from Lee for six down the ground.
That strike took the visitors up to a total that looked reasonable enough in the prevailing conditions, but the clean striking of Maddinson, the composure of Henriques and Bopara, and a Thunder bowling attack little short of the required depth, made it another night of disappointment for the losing team.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here