Botha blitz secures home semi-final for Strikers
Adelaide Strikers 6 for 182 (Simmons 46, Botha 41*) beat Sydney Sixers 159 (Silk 67, Botha 2-27, Tait 2-29)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Adelaide Strikers sealed a home semi-final with their fifth win of the season, as they moved to the top of the table after beating the Sydney Sixers by 23 runs at the SCG.
It was only the second time Strikers were setting a total this year and contributions down the order ensured Johan Botha's decision to bat was sound. A target of 183 appeared out of reach for a top-heavy batting line-up like the Sixers', who fell short despite a late blitz from Jordan Silk.
The Strikers openers provided a blistering start, before Tim Ludeman fell in the fourth over while attempting to hit a fourth consecutive boundary. That strike from Doug Bollinger did little to slow the scoring rate as the other opener Craig Simmons continued on. There were 11 fours and a six in the Powerplay and the Strikers racked up 66 runs.
Sixers managed to get some control back when the field dropped back. Jonathan Dean, on 13, succumbed to the pressure and was bowled off a slog by Steve O'Keefe. Simmons slowed down as well. He'd made 30 from his first 13 balls, but could only scramble 16 more in the next 21 before being deceived by a slower ball from Sean Abbott.
Strikers' momentum had been punctured as O'Keefe , Nathan Lyon, playing his first match of the season, and Moises Henqriques bowled cannily in the middle overs. Travis Head's scratchy 12-ball 9 put the performances of Ludeman and Simmons on a sluggish pitch into perspective.
However, Botha promoted himself above Alex Ross and kick-started the innings once again. Botha targeted just two areas, clipping three boundaries square on the leg-side and carving two over cover during an outstanding innings of 41 from only 19 balls.
At the other end, Ryan ten Doeschate contributed a busy 26, then Ross came and went for six, but it hardly mattered as Botha's assault hauled his team from a modest 4 for 122 in 15 overs to finish at 6 for 182, six better than the average winning score and 20 better than the average first-innings score in the Big Bash League at the SCG.
Nic Maddinson and Michael Lumb, who have largely carried the Sixers batting this season, began positively, but fell in consecutive overs before the end of the Powerplay. The Strikers bowling, which has been consistent all season, sensed an opening and capitalised.
There were no boundaries in the 21 balls after the Powerplay. Sixers' run-rate dropped below seven, which was four lower than what was required. And when Moises Henqriques' and Riki Wessels' less-than-a-run-a-ball innings ended in consecutive overs, the game swung firmly in Strikers' favour.
Two further wickets fell in the next two overs to leave the Sixers reeling at 6 for 79 in the 13th. But a remarkable 34-ball 67 from Silk - his maiden BBL fifty - that included seven fours and three sixes lifted the total to a more respectable 159 and limited what could prove to be crucial net run rate damage. But not once did the innings threaten to derail the Strikers victory.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket