Burns, Simmons leave Sixers' hopes in the balance
Brisbane Heat 8 for 162 (Burns 60, Simmons 54, Abbott 3-8) beat Sydney Sixers 8 for 156 (Lumb 47, Haddin 42, Swepson 2-26) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sydney Sixers, the finalists last season, were left all but out of contention in this season's Big Bash League, after suffering a six-run loss against Brisbane Heat. There remains a slim mathematical chance, that with various other results going their way, and a handsome victory in next Saturday's Sydney derby, they could yet squirm through. However, so slender are their chances that Brad Haddin, their third captain of the season, didn't realise it looked possible. "We'll hold onto that glimmer of hope," he said, with a wry grin.
Injuries and international call-ups to key players have bitten Sixers; their batting order here - a debutant at first drop, a bowling allrounder at No.4, and their finest batsman at No.5 - looked like it had been picked on the basis of who remained standing. Haddin's side had spurned an opportunity to keep their season alive, and he knew it. Chasing a middling total of 163 from the only team below them in the ladder, the batting lacked fluency, and wickets fell too regularly. Heat dropped three simple catches to add to two tougher chances and still won with greater comfort than the eventual margin of six runs would suggest.
Heat showed improvement and appeared to have finally learnt to bat without a contribution from their outstanding captain Chris Lynn. Jimmy Peirson launched Jackson Bird's first ball onto the roof of the pavilion before miscuing a heave to backward point. Three overs later, Lynn pulled flat and holed out to deep square-leg for only 1.
Heat needed their senior players to step up, and Lendl Simmons and Joe Burns duly added 73 together. Simmons played a deft, occasionally brutal hand, cute late cuts contrasting with booming drives through cover and over long-on. In a bid to accelerate, Simmons went after Johan Botha's third over, bisecting the field at cow corner for four, then driving aerially towards Jordan Silk, who threw himself up at long-on, but could only parry it over the boundary for a six. One shot too many, however, saw Doug Bollinger catch Simmons at long-off.
Burns pulled Botha beautifully in front of square for four next ball, then twice got down on one knee to send the South African for consecutive sixes the following over. Burns played a classy, off-side dominated knock, and was happy to soak dots, knowing that bad balls would come, but became the first of four wickets to an inspired spell from Sean Abbott at the death.
Like his team, Abbott had endured a BBL to forget. Eleven days after being butchered for 51 in 16 balls by Travis Head in one of the greatest T20 heists, Abbott was not called to bowl until the 18th over of Heat's innings, on Sunday. In his two overs, Abbott did not concede a boundary, and picked up three wickets, while his final ball resulted in a run-out.
Despite fine, calm hands from two of their most experienced batsman, Lumb and Haddin, and some shoddy fielding, Sixers came up short. Ed Cowan never got going, and debutant Nick Larkin struggled. Abbott earned a promotion, but looked turgid. Haddin, though, gave his side some hope when he joined Lumb.
Haddin was strong as ever in front of square and targeted the legspin of Mitch Swepson, whose outfoxing of Larkin and Silk was enough to earn tweeted praise from Shane Warne. Swepson then dropped Haddin on 26 in an ugly fashion at long-off off Floros, who bowled Lumb next ball. Haddin was shelled again on 32, this time by Simmons at deep square-leg. Soon after, however, Haddin was caught well at gully.
With Haddin's wicket, went Sixers' last hopes. "I don't put it down to injuries," was Haddin's blunt assessment. "We have not won those big moments we have become known for," he said.