Sydney Sixers 5 for 128 (Lumb 61*, Cutting 2-9) beat Brisbane Heat 9 for 127 (Pomersbach 37, O'Keefe 3-21, Hazlewood 3-32) by five wickets
An unbeaten 61 from Michael Lumb on the back of a polished bowling display has given Sydney Sixers a sliver of hope of defending their title.
Brisbane Heat entered the match as the only side with anything to play for. A win would have catapulted them into the top four with one round remaining but they instead, they produced their worst performance of the tournament after winning the toss and electing to bat.
James Hopes set his side back early, playing out a maiden from the Sri Lankan offspinner Sachithra Senanayake. Senanayake, with only nine international caps to his name, proved a weapon in his first match for the Sixers. Although he went wicketless, his four overs cost just 19 and his maiden piled enormous pressure on Hopes, who holed out to Steve O'Keefe the following over.
Joe Burns joined Luke Pomersbach and although the pair put together 48, the 43 balls it took put pressure on Heat.
Josh Hazlewood made an impressive return from injury to remove Burns in his second over. It was the first of three scalps for Hazlewood, who remains firmly in the gaze of the national selectors. It also triggered a collapse from the home side. Heat lost four wickets in 19 balls, all to strokes aimed at clearing the rope to lift the sinking run-rate.
Five wickets become six when the promoted Ben Cutting gifted Brad Haddin a simple stumping and O'Keefe his third victim, and the total was still shy of three figures with just three overs remaining. Cameos from Peter Forrest and Nathan Hauritz ensured that the Sixers needed in excess of a run-a-ball for victory.
Lumb and Brad Haddin resumed their opening combination that proved so successful in the Champions League to get the Sydney side off to a brisk start. Haddin looked in ominous touch with two sweetly struck boundaries and a six before chopping on to Alistair McDermott.
Lumb then had to drop anchor as he watched both Nic Maddinson and Moises Henriques waste promising starts. Lumb had some luck too when he skied a ball from Hopes over short third man. Kemar Roach made exceptional ground and looked to have pouched it, only to stumble and propel the ball away to the rope for four.
Steve Smith top-edged a bizarre overhead smash to mid-on next ball to leave the Sixers needing 29 runs from 29 deliveries. Daniel Hughes was also bounced out to make the equation a nervy 17 from 14. But Lumb stood tall and cracked Dan Christian over the midwicket fence to both ease the tension and raise his half-century.
He would strike the winning runs powerfully through midwicket the following over to see his side home with six balls to spare.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth