Strikers secure second win after surviving late scare
Late blows from Steve O'Keefe and Ben Dwarshuis left Sydney Sixers needing eight off three balls, but Michael Neser sealed Adelaide Strikers' second win with three yorkers
Adelaide Strikers 3 for 167 (Carey 83*, Dwarshuis 2-41) beat Sydney Sixers 8 for 161 (Silk 50, Rashid 2-22) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Adelaide Strikers belied expectations after holding their nerve against Sydney Sixers at the SCG.
The Strikers were in control after high-quality innings from Alex Carey and Jonathan Wells and excellent Power-play bowling upfront left the Sixers needing 61 from 30 balls will no recognised batsmen left. But Steve O'Keefe, Johan Botha and Ben Dwarshuis found a way to reduce the equation to 22 off seven before O'Keefe and Dwarshuis hit consecutive sixes off Ben Laughlin and Michael Neser. Another well-run two made it eight runs off three balls but Neser responded with three pinpoint yorkers to secure the Strikers second straight win.
Conversely, the talent-laden Sixers slumped to their third straight loss after their batting line-up failed to fire again.
The Strikers' new-look top four is made up exclusively of left-handers. It allowed the Sixers to set up their attack specifically to counter them. The Sixers made several changes to the side that lost their first two matches. Moises Henriques was ill, with Botha standing-in as captain. Dwarshuis came in for Doug Bollinger as a like-for-like but the Sixers picked the extra right-arm off-spinner in Will Somerville specifically to counter the left-handers. Jake Weatherald has a poor record against left-arm quicks in the BBL and the trend continued after he skied a Dwarshuis short ball in the first over. Botha and Somerville were able to bowl six of the first 12 overs at Carey and Travis Head, conceding 40 runs between them and picking up Head. By the time Colin Ingram fell to Dwarshuis for a run-a-ball 15 the Strikers had only managed to score 7.23 per over through 13 overs and were headed towards a below-par total at the SCG.
O'Keefe not used, Carey and Wells cash in
According to CricViz, Steve O'Keefe has the third-best economy rate at the SCG in the last three BBL seasons. Botha, understandably, did not use the left-arm spinner in the first 13 overs against the four left-handers. But when the right-handed Wells walked out, with one boundary significantly larger than the other, it seemed a perfect time to bring O'Keefe on. Instead, Botha opted for Somerville again. Wells nailed a sweep, with the turn, for four to get himself going. Wells and Carey put together an unbroken 74-run stand in the last seven overs to get the total up to 167 without facing a single delivery from O'Keefe.
Carey displayed power and placement early to get to his maiden BBL half-century. But despite losing his timing late in the innings, his supreme fitness saw him sprint four twos and one three. He finished with an unbeaten 83 from 59 balls. Wells' cameo was outstanding too. He hit two fours and a massive 104m six onto the roof of the Bill O'Reilly stand in the last four balls of the innings to finish with 33 not out from 19 balls.
Strikers strike early again
Taking early wickets in the Powerplay has been Perth Scorchers' modus operandi for years when defending totals. The Strikers look to have copied the blueprint, attacking with their seamers upfront. Billy Stanlake conceded just two runs in the first over. Jason Roy flicked him for a huge six in the third over, but Stanlake set the trap for Daniel Hughes tucking him up with two men back and Hughes picked out one of them on the boundary. Neser had Nic Maddinson nicking off with Carey completing an outstanding one-handed catch. Roy, who looked to be fighting his way out of a form slump, did not do his homework on Ben Laughlin, lofting a predictable slower ball first-up high to mid-off. The Sixers were 3 for 42 at the end of the Powerplay before spin was needed.
Silk road too long
Jordan Silk did his best to make the chase interesting. In his first appearance for the season as a replacement for Henriques, he struck ball as sweetly as any batsman all night. He raced to 50 off 31 balls with seven classy boundaries. But when he chopped Rashid Khan onto his stumps all hope seemed lost.
Rashid had earlier bowled the Sixers' last recognised batsman in Sam Billings. Botha and O'Keefe kept hopes alive with a 17-run over off Neser. O'Keefe and Dwarshuis then raised heart-rates with two massive blows inside the last seven deliveries after Laughlin and Neser missed their lengths. But Neser found the mark with his last three to wrap up the Strikers' win.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth