Head century caps Strikers' thrilling win
Adelaide Strikers 5 for 182 (Head 101*, Dwarshuis 3-25) beat Sydney Sixers 5 for 176 (Haddin 54*, Cowan 43, Rashid 3-34) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pantomime season's arrived in Adelaide. It's the final day of the year, so let the good times roll. Or the mad times, in this case. A bumper crowd of 46,389 watched on, rabid, riotous and ever so partisan and Strikers batsman Travis Head gave them everything they could want with a blitz so grand that his team romped to a win despite needing 51 off the last three overs. He got every one of those runs himself, and the five more he needed to finish 101 not out off 53 balls.
New Year's eve arrived with a lot of fanfare, including a premature fireworks display, but everything faded into the background and a mighty game of cricket took centre stage. It contained moments of high farce; funky overthrows, dodgy drops, attempted mankads, mystery injuries and plenty of bickering and after all that - as far as the crowd was concerned at least - the good guys prevailed in a thrilling finish with a young hometown hero standing tall.
A night of such oddities, surely, was made for Brad Haddin. An injury-enforced reshuffle meant he swapped opener for finisher, coming in at No. 4 and seeing an efficient Sydney Sixers' innings home, after Michael Lumb and Ed Cowan - making his first appearance of the campaign - got them off to a flyer. But 66 for 0 became 66 for 2 in no time flat.
Lumb was his usual mix of legside hoicks, lusty hooks and bunted inside-out drives, and it took a moment of inspiration to remove him. Alex Ross provided it by sprinting 30 yards round the offside fence to dive and intercept an uppish, well-struck drive. A ball later - Adil Rashid's first - Nic Maddinson was gone too, trapped plumb in front playing a rather odd reverse sweep.
Haddin joined Cowan, who ditched his usual orthodoxy with a couple of violent swipes to leg. It was that stroke that brought about his downfall, however, as he was caught at cow corner, and soon enough Rashid - now the competition's joint highest wicket-taker - had snared Jordan Silk and Ryan Carters too. In a bit to push the scoring rate up, Sixers had lost half their side in the 14th over. They still had 105 on the board though.
Former Strikers captain Johan Botha - who was roundly booed and spent the night donning the near permanent scowl of a man wronged - and Haddin saw the innings through, sharing a 71-run stand. Haddin twice slog-swept Rashid for six, and went after Kane Richardson too, while Botha ran hard before finding the boundary four times in the last two overs, including a magnificent slash over point in a fractious final over. The bowler Ben Laughlin and Haddin clashed when the batsman appeared to edge behind but stayed put, and the umpire doubled the home side's fury by adjudging it a wide.
Craig Simmons and Tim Ludeman got the Strikers' chase off to a brisk start. Simmons belted Jackson Bird's opening over for three fours, once through point, then either side of square leg. Next over, he sent Ben Dwarshuis high into the stands with a pull. Ludeman was quickly in on the act, taking a pair of boundaries from each of Doug Bollinger and Botha's opening overs.
Simmons fell at the start of the fifth over, skying an attempted slog off Bird. An over later, Mahela Jayawardene was caught behind, and Ludeman soon followed off a top-edge. Brad Hodge wriggled to 17 off 18, including one mighty six, but when the New Year's fireworks prematurely began, he and Alex Ross fell in quick succession to the impressive Dwarshuis, and the game looked up.
Enter Travis Head. He had taken 19 balls to find the fence, but once he biffed both Bird and Botha for sixes, he was a man on the move. Sean Abbott was set to bowl the 18th over, with Strikers still requiring 51 runs and Head 45 off 38. Head sent Abbott for four to long-on, six to deep midwicket, four behind point, then for two enormous legside sixes. Doug Bollinger bowler an impressive 19th over, but Head still managed a monstrous six over extra cover, to go with five other scampered runs. And Abbott, amazingly, was left to bowl the last set with Strikers needing 13 to win.
No Adelaide Strikers batsman had ever made a BBL century and Head was 17 short of a maiden T20 ton. The first was a half-volley on leg stump. Six. Slower-ball bouncer. Six. Short again. Slapped. Six. Century. Pandemonium.
If 2016 is half as fun as all this, we are in for a treat.