Sixers all but through to semis after convincing win
Sydney Sixers 141 for 5 (Watson 47, Haddin 32) beat Lions 137 for 9 (Bodi 61, Symes 23, Starc 3-19, Hazlewood 2-18) by five wickets
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Lions scored 56 runs off their last 57 deliveries, losing seven wickets, to completely undo a quick start provided by Gulam Bodi, who scored 61 off 44. Although Jean Symes provided quick 23 in the end, Lions ended with an underwhelming 137, which Sydney Sixers chased with ease despite a middle-overs stumble of three wickets for 14 runs. With their third win out of three and superior net run rate, Sixers are now all but through to the semi-finals*.
Bodi and Symes continued in the same form that had helped Lions win their previous match, against Chennai Super Kings, but Sixers wove a comeback around the two. They scored 84 in 10 overs between them, the rest managed just 53. Not only were the others guilty of going slow, they also got out after eating up those deliveries.
It was not the two leading Sixers pace bowlers that slowed down Lions, but the medium-pace of Shane Watson and Josh Hazlewood that took the wickets to keep pegging Lions back. Bodi, on the other hand, kept hitting the ball over midwicket and extra cover. Pat Cummins' first over went for 14, and Mitchell Starc went for a huge six in his first.
Hazlewood, though, got Alviro Petersen in his first, and Watson did that to Quinton de Kock in his second. De Kock, who scored a fifty against Mumbai Indians, managed just four off 14. Neil Mckenzie started calmly again, but couldn't kick on, and went back for 17 off 16 when Hazlewood when he opened the face to Hazlewood in the 11th over, managing only an edge. Zander de Bruyn made it worse with four off 10, and Lions were now just 91 for 4 in the 14th over.
Symes and Bodi pushed Lions back on track a 29-run partnership in 3.4 overs, but Starc came back with both their wickets in the 18th over. Lions were pulled back again, and Sixers were left with a middling total to chase.
The start Sixers got off to wasn't the flashiest, but Watson and Michael Lumb stayed together for 8.3 overs. While Lumb went only at a run a ball, Watson opened up to take 19 runs off the sixth over, bowled by the quick but erratic Chris Morris. Aaaron Phangiso once again provided Lions with a comeback in the middle overs, getting rid of Lumb and Dominic Thornely in successive deliveries. When Phangiso got Watson on the slog sweep in the11th over, SIxers had gone from 60 for no loss to 74 for 3.
The next two overs went for just eight, taking the asking rate up to 7.71 for the last seven overs. Brad Haddin then went on a sweeping spree, sending Symes for three consecutive sixes. Two more wickets fell later, but under six an over was not going to trouble Sixers.
*03:17pm, October 18: The report had previously incorrectly stated that Sydney Sixers are through to the semi-finals. This has been changed.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo