Sydney Sixers 2 for 157 (Hughes 66*, Denly 43) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 156 (Green 49, Vince 34, Henriques 2-25) by eight wickets
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Sydney Sixers found light at the end of a long dark tunnel. The sneaked past Sydney Thunder in a last-ball thriller at the SCG to break a string of six-straight losses and finally register a win this season.
The loss leaves the Thunder a game outside the top four, having played more matches than four of the five teams above them.
The Sixers batting has been poor throughout the tournament but the introduction of English import Joe Denly at the top brought about a change in fortunes. His quick-fire 43 set the tempo for the run chase. It allowed Daniel Hughes to anchor the innings with an unbeaten 66 from 55 balls. But they still needed all 20 overs to chase the target of 157, with Moises Henriques scoring two from the final ball to secure the win after Chris Green delivered an excellent over.
Green conceded the winning runs but he was the Thunder's outstanding contributor on the night and was deservingly named the Man of the Match. His 49 from just 27 deliveries with the bat lifted the Thunder's total from 'underwhelming' to 'defendable'. He bowled three overs for just 13 runs before being asked to bowl the last when the Sixers needed just nine to win. He took it to the last ball but the ask was simply too big.
The Sixers won the toss and elected to field. Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill told the broadcasters that a close look at the pitch revealed small ridges in the surface that resembled "corrugated iron". That revelation explained the steep bounce with the new ball. Usman Khawaja scored 171 on the same ground one week earlier but scored just one run from his first 11 balls as Ben Dwarshuis and Carlos Braithwaite got balls to leap from a length. Khawaja ran at one that bounced so high from a length that it shot over the keeper's head for four byes. James Vince was the only player in the top four to strike at more than 60. He hit the ball powerfully to all parts before holing out but the Thunder were floundering at 3 for 60 after 10 overs following his dismissal.
Green was elevated to No. 5 on a suggestion from Thunder's Director of Cricket Michael Hussey during a team meeting. His highest T20 score in 14 innings was 22 and he averaged 7.40. But he did strike at 137 in his limited opportunities in the BBL.
Hussey's hunch paid off. Green resurrected the innings with a stunning innings, striking cleanly as well as running aggressively. His partnership with Arjun Nair yielded 59 in 39 balls.
Green launched three sixes and two fours but was needlessly run out on 49 with 15 balls to go. Jay Lenton stepped up with 18 from seven balls to slightly take the gloss off an excellent all-round bowling display from the Sixers. Henriques bowled particularly well in his first game back from personal leave.
Denly replaced countryman Jason Roy at the top of the order. Roy's six matches had produced just 62 runs at 10.33. Denly scored two-thirds of that in 29 balls against the Thunder and looked right at home. Anything fractionally short, he pounded over the leg side. The wicket appeared to get better as the night progressed and the Sixers took advantage with their best Powerplay of the tournament.
Spin reels them in
The Thunder spinners have been tight all season and again they dragged the game back from the brink. Fawad Ahmed and Nair conceded just 24 runs in five overs after the powerplay. Fawad deceived Denly with a beautiful wrong'un. The Sixers did not hit another boundary until the 12th over, but Hughes and Nic Maddinson never panicked. They saw out the spin and waited for the return of the Thunder quicks and took full toll. Shane Watson, however, still had Green up his sleeve and although the required rate always looked under control, Green bowled the 15th and 18th overs for just nine runs to leave 19 required from 12 balls. Mitchell McClenaghan conceded 10 runs from the penultimate over, with one poorly-executed ball costing a boundary. Green did everything he could to concede eight or fewer off the last but Hughes and Henriques squeezed out nine.