Sydney Sixers 7 for 177 (Vince 75, Silk 41, Lalor 5-26) beat Brisbane Heat (Cutting 28, Curran 3-16) by 79 runs
The Sixers easily disposed of the Heat in Sydney on Sunday, led by a sizzling James Vince innings and a tame Heat reply.
The Englishman made 75 from 45 deliveries, enabling the Sixers to post an imposing 177. After slumping to 2 for 16 after four, the Heat weren't ever able to make a dent.
The result moves the Sixers to ten points and second position, while the Heat remain rooted to seventh position with seven points. While enough time remains in the tournament for both sides to improve their position, a defeat was going to make matters difficult for the losing outfit.
Sixers lay the foundation
The Heat won the bat flip and elected to field, leaving the Sixers to negotiate a wicket that appeared to be a fraction slow at first sight.
Josh Philippe, promoted to open with Daniel Hughes, found the boundary four times from the first nine deliveries of the match before skying a Josh Lalor slower ball and departing for 17.
Hughes kept the score rattling along, taking 13 from Jack Prestwidge's first over, but soon departed when another Lalor slower ball - this one at 104kmph - had the opener dragging a pull shot on to his stumps.
At 2 for 42 after the Powerplay, Henriques and Vince took up the mantle. The latter was able to free his arms regularly to find the rope as a solid partnership loomed. But an Henriques top-edge saw Lalor scoot around the edge of the third man boundary to take a good catch, arresting the Sixers' momentum and bringing Jordan Silk to the crease.
Vince and Silk take the game away
As the Tasmania opener played himself in, Vince looked to accelerate, peppering the short boundary and providing plenty of work for Brendan Doggett and Prestwidge. Some solid boundary riding was interrupted when Doggett dropped a huge skier, and from there Vince stepped up a gear. He brought his fifty up in 35 balls, and was chief architect in setting up the Sixers total.
It wasn't without luck, as he was then dropped a second time by Doggett, this time after slogging Mitch Swepson to cow corner. The second was simpler than the first, and was painfully followed by a Vince six into the O'Reilly Stand.
At this point, Silk joined the fray. Using all areas of the crease, he was consistently able to find runs through the leg side, at one point taking a Ben Cutting over for 17, as the Sixers closed in a total of 170-plus. With so many wickets in hand, Vince and Silk entered helter-skelter mode, before Vince eventually perished for 75 from 45 balls, caught after attempting to reverse sweep Mujeeb.
Silk followed soon after, crabbing across too far as Lalor took his leg stump, handing the Heat pacer his third wicket. His fourth came after Alex Ross took a great catch running in from the deep after Tom Curran skied one to leg, and he then claimed a fifth - the only five-for of the tournament - after Jack Edwards was caught at long-off. It meant Lalor had 5 for 26, great reward for a spell that expertly mixed cutters and quicker deliveries.
The Heat were never in it
Steve O'Keefe opened the bowling and could hardly have started his team off better. He bowled Max Bryant with the fourth ball of the over, before containing Chris Lynn to finish with a wicket maiden. Ben Dwarshuis conceded one from his opening over, before O'Keefe returned and yielded only two.
At 1 for 4 from three overs, the Heat needed to make a move. Bash Brothers Inc were able to combine for eleven from Dwarshuis' next over, but Lynn came unstuck from Sean Abbott's first ball, heaving one straight in the dewy air, leaving the ball to be well-held by Edwards.
It was largely a run a ball for the period thereafter, which left the Heat needing nearly 12 an over with only eight overs gone. With the pressure mounting, Lloyd Pope then produced a delivery of quality,, enticing Jimmy Peirson from his crease, spinning it past the bat and allowing Phillipe to effect a sharp stumping.
All that stood between the Sixers and a much-needed win was McCullum, and it was the flame-haired leggie, Pope, who picked him up. On 27 from 31, McCullum tried to sweep Pope in front of square, but sliced it all the way to Silk on the deep midwicket boundary, as he clasped it tight into his chest.
The task was insurmountable from thereon, and the Heat's batting slumped as a result. They lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Ben Cutting providing a sliver of light with a bright 28 before he was comprehensively bowled by Tom Curran, who led an excellent Sixers bowling performance, picking up 3 for 16.
Sam Perry is a Melbourne-based sportswriter. @sjjperry