Face-off of the 19-year-olds and Phangiso on fire
Will the real Gulam Bodi please stand up? In the Lions previous two games, he started his innings with a strike rate in the 60s, but against the Sydney Sixers he didn't waste any time at all getting going. Pat Cummins was glanced for two elegant fours in the very first over, and Mitchell Starc's fifth ball was flicked onto the grass banks with power and timing. Bodi got to a 32-ball fifty in fifth gear, having cracked three mighty sixes and four fours, but wasn't given much support as the Lions set a sub-par total.
Pat Cummins has pace and enthusiasm in droves, but he has not quite learned fully to harness and control his formidable abilities just yet. In his second over, he flung down a chest-high beamer at Quinton de Kock. One 19-year-old to another, there was nothing personal in the wayward delivery, and Cummins immediately assured de Kock as such. But the batsman was rattled, and though he survived another three overs he never got going and was caught behind for 4 from 14 deliveries.
After the Sixers' previous match, captain Brad Haddin suggested that while there was no way he was going to rest any of his quicks, he had no finalised bowling plans and joked that he might even ask Dominic Thornely to open the bowling. That didn't happen, but Thornely was brought on to twirl down his offies in the seventh over, as soon as the fielding restrictions had been lifted. Gulam Bodi, who'd had Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood to deal with, received the change in attack with glee, taking 14 runs off the over. Thornely wasn't asked to bowl again, and his day didn't get much better when he was stumped first ball during the Sixers' chase.
Hits for six don't fly as high or as long in Cape Town as they do up in the Highveld, where Jean Symes plays most of his cricket. Wind is also almost always a factor in Cape Town, making it especially hard to hit the ball any distance in the air towards the Wynberg End. That gives an indication as to how well Symes must have timed his six off Cummins in the 17th over. Symes shellacked a monstrous hit over Cummins' head that scythed through a screaming South Easter wind and landed several rows back in the stands beyond long-off. Some hit.
At the time, his performance against Mumbai Indians at the Wanderers might have been called a once-off. When he bettered his 1 for 17, which included the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, against Chennai Super Kings with two more wickets and not a run more, people began to take note. Aaron Phangiso has now made it three in three, his career-best 3 for 14 against Sydney Sixers unable to bring about a win but turning heads nonetheless. Taking down a top three that includes Michael Lumb, Dominic Thornely and Shane Watson is no small feat.
When Phangiso removed Watson in the 11th over, the match was in the balance. The required run rate was edging towards seven an over, and the Sixers' best batsman was in the dug-out. What was needed was a captain's innings, and Brad Haddin provided just that. With three identical slog-sweeps of Symes, which all went for six in the arc between long-on and midwicket, Haddin brought the required rate under a-run-a-ball and the pressure was off.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town