Sydney Sixers 2 for 130 (Henriques 61*, Hughes 51*) beat Adelaide Strikers 8 for 124 (Lehmann 46, Dwarshuis 3-7) by eight wickets
Set up by outstanding bowling from left-arm quick Ben Dwarshuis, Sydney Sixers have one foot in the Big Bash semi-finals and kept themselves firmly in the hunt for a home tie as they dispatched defending champions Adelaide Strikers in thumping fashion by eight wickets at the SCG with the Strikers seeing their hopes all-but ended in a one-sided contest.
The tone was set by Alex Carey's first-over run out, a continuation of a problem that has hit the Strikers' this season, and they couldn't find any early momentum against some excellent Sixers bowling. Jono Wells and Jake Lehmann, who made his highest T20 score, built a promising stand but the Sixers always had a grip on proceedings.
Dwarshuis claimed standout career-best figures of 3 for 7 and such was the effectiveness of the display in the field that a slightly below-par display from Tom Curran was barely felt. The Strikers needed much more than the two early wickets they managed to have any hope and an unbroken stand of 106 between Daniel Hughes, who made 42-ball fifty, and Moises Henriques whose half-century took just 26 balls did the job in style with 35 balls to spare.
Strikers run out of chances
Run-outs happen in all formats, but the nature of T20 makes them especially prevalent. Still, Carey and Jake Weatherald have had an issue this season. Four times when batting together one of them has been run out, this innings was the third time it fell Carey's way when he played the ball to backward point only to be sent back by Weatherald. Carey's look of thunder told the story. It hasn't just been when batting together they've had problems, either. Weatherald has been involved in six run outs this season and Carey five all told.
To compound matters, Weatherald couldn't make amends as he struggled to find his timing against an impressive Sixers attack. He didn't find the boundary in a 19-ball stay which ended when he clubbed to mid-on and when Colin Ingram was caught at short third man in the next over it left the Strikers with a horrid Powerplay of 3 for 30.
Dwarshuis' day out
A year ago Dwarshuis was named in Australia's T20 squad for the tri-series against England and New Zealand. He wasn't used as Australia won the tournament and hasn't featured in squad since, but he is enjoying the sort of season that could keep his name in frame if the selectors want to delve in to their reserves.
His figures of 3 for 7 were the joint second-most economical spell in BBL history behind Mitchell Johnson's 3 for 3 in 2017 and level with Lasith Malinga's incredible 6 for 7 against Perth Scorchers in 2012 and Fawad Ahmed's 1 for 7 against Brisbane Heat in 2015. He'd started by removing Weatherald and then showed sharp skill to react to Wells' movement around the crease to fire in a leg-stump yorker to halt the Strikers' attempts at a recovery. He added top scorer Lehmann, well caught over his shoulder by Hughes, and should have had a fourth wicket but James Vince couldn't hold on to a chance at cover when Michael Neser clothed a full toss. He escaped with what should have been a wide call off his penultimate delivery then closed out with another dot.
There were a couple of blips early in the chase as the in-form pair of Josh Philippe and Vince fell cheaply. Philippe took a painful blow from Billy Stanlake before being trapped lbw by Neser then Vince, having clipped back-to-back leg-side boundaries, smashed a short ball straight to cover. But the result was never in doubt.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the dire need of wickets, Rashid Khan was held back until the sixth over by when Hughes was settled and Henriques had had some sighters. Hughes played some delightful drives and then the pair tore into Stanlake's third over which cost 16, including a crunching flat six over deep square leg by Henriques. The captain went to his fifty by taking Rashid for 6, 4, 6 to put a rubberstamp on a dominant display and finished the match with a huge six over deep midwicket.
Chris Lynn's comments a few days about the tournament being too long has given a prominent voice to the debates around this year's BBL. They will linger throughout the rest of the tournament and well into the off-season ahead of potential tweaks for next year - but that won't include a reduction in games; the full home-and-away program is locked into the new six-year broadcast deals.
This match was a tough sell and just 8,083 were at the SCG. It was the first day back for most schools following the Australia Day weekend marking the end of the holiday season. Cricket Australia will continue to talk about overall numbers, but vast swathes of empty seats are not a great look for a tournament that seemed to have it just right. There is still another home match for Sixers as they look to secure a home semi-final. Everyone will be hoping they pack them in if it happens.