Sydney Sixers 2 for 129 (Maddinson 62, Hughes 49*) beat Melbourne Stars 7 for 128 (Lyon 3-18, Abbott 2-35) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Nathan Lyon and Nic Maddinson led Sydney Sixers to a hiding of Melbourne Stars at the MCG, easing them a game clear in the battle of the two lowest-ranked teams in the Big Bash League. On a pitch that offered something for pacemen and spin bowlers alike, Lyon's spell ensured that the Stars were never able to gather any momentum.
The pursuit was then driven by Maddinson's unbridled aggression, ably supported by Daniel Hughes. Having gone six matches without a win, the Sixers now have two from two - too late to make the semi-finals, but indicative of their ability to do some damage to better-placed teams in the run towards the pointy end of the tournament. The Stars' defeat also formally eliminated them from contention, meaning they will miss the semi-finals for the first time in the club's history.
Lyon's short-form audition
On Sunday night, Australia moved into white-ball mode without Nathan Lyon as part of their team, as has been the case for the vast majority of his international career. After Adam Zampa and Travis Head bowled 10.5 overs for 78 runs and no wickets between them, Lyon had a chance at the MCG to remind a few observers of his potential value in the shorter forms, and did so from his first over - the last of the Stars' Powerplay.
Starting from around the wicket, his first ball was levered to the fine-leg boundary by Kevin Pietersen, and in response Lyon's second ball was quicker and shorter. Pietersen picked up the length quickly and swivelled into an instinctive pull shot, but skewed it squarer than intended. This after Lyon had brought long-on up, resulting in a simple catch at deep midwicket. Next ball Lyon found sharp spin and bounce to catch the edge of Ben Dunk's bat, well held by Peter Nevill, before Pete Handscomb also failed to control a lofted stroke, hitting straight when he tried to go squarer to be taken at long-on. Lyon finished with 3 for 18, the sort of analysis worthy of Rashid Khan.
Maxwell in a pitched battle
Coming out to bat at No. 4, Glenn Maxwell found variation in pace and bounce from virtually his first ball, delivered by Carols Brathwaite, and edged his third past the stumps to get off the mark. A fuller delivery sailed over long-off for an imperious six, before the next was edged loosely to the third-man boundary. After a pair of quieter overs, Maxwell launched again, knocking Sean Abbott for a pair of sixes over fine leg and long-off before attempting to upper cut a slower ball and edging through to Nevill.
If a mixed bag, Maxwell's was by a distance the swiftest of the Stars' stuttering innings. He hit 28 off 16 balls at a strike-rate of 175. By contrast, James Faulkner battled to the same score from 30 deliveries in his efforts to set some sort of score for the Sixers to pursue. The slow scoring was, in Maxwell's opinion, the result of an MCG surface that offered too much to bowlers. Speaking to Ten after his dismissal, he indicated the view that the ground staff was compensating for the lifeless Test wicket, and seemed none too happy about it.
Taking control of the chase
While not exactly outstanding in a struggling team, Nic Maddinson's BBL this season has been appreciably better than his overall T20 record with the bat. With a clear mind and strong attacking intent, he went about improving that ledger even further while hammering the Stars all over the MCG. After a first-ball single off Daniel Worrall, he made his intentions completely clear second ball, when he launched the Stars captain John Hastings beyond wide long-on and into the crowd of 26,130 and plenty of seagulls.
From there, Maddinson struck at least one boundary in every over he faced, motoring to 50 from a mere 23 balls and clattering five sixes. He was particularly harsh on 21-year-old legspinner Daniel Fallins, taking 20 runs from eight balls, while Hastings was also subject to punishment - 17 runs from 10. The sequence of consecutive overs with boundaries reached seven before he tried a pull shot at a Jackson Coleman short ball, could not cover the bounce, and was well held by a running Ben Dunk. Maddinson walked off with a strike-rate of 200 for the night, and 213 runs at a strike-rate of 128.31 in the competition.
A solid supporting act
At the other end to Maddinson's pyrotechnics, Daniel Hughes played the ideal supporting hand, rotating strike with no fewer than 15 singles on the way to an undefeated 49. Hughes likes pace on the ball, and struck a quartet of boundaries from the fast-medium of Daniel Worrall. He was less comfortable against Fallins, beaten by one sharp legbreak that underlined the turn that could be extracted from the pitch.
Overall Hughes has enjoyed a decent tournament, averaging 49 with the bat and striking at 108.04 - good numbers for an opening batsman if he can be batted around. Unfortunately for Hughes he was accompanied for most of the competition by a misfiring Jason Roy, who was unable to find his best form until he switched to ODI matches for England. This night, however, Maddinson provided the requisite aggression, and Hughes excelled.