O'Keefe, Philippe guide Sixers to victory in Sydney Smash

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13 Jan 2021 | 07:06 AM
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Nitin Fernandes

O'Keefe, Philippe guide Sixers to victory in Sydney Smash

The Sixers defeated the Thunder by five wickets in a match which had overs reduced due to rain

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Sydney Sixers have strengthened their position at the top of the table after a five-wicket win (DLS method) against Sydney Thunder at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Wednesday (13 January 2021). With this victory, the Sixers now have a six-point lead at the top of the Big Bash League (BBL) table.

HALES GETS THUNDER OFF TO A TOP START

After being put into bat, Alex Hales got the Thunder off a superb start, with the team in green racing off to 47/1 in the first four overs. Jackson Bird began proceedings with a wide that went for a boundary and it was all Thunder for a while after.

While Usman Khawaja didn't seem to get his timing right, Hales was on the attack at the other end. Hales was, especially, harsh on fellow Englishman Jake Ball, slamming two fours and two sixes off his over. Between overs 1-4, no one has a better strike rate than Hales’ 185.9 this season. But it wasn't a perfect Powerplay for the Thunder as Khawaja was dismissed by Bird in the fourth over.

O’KEEFE TURNS THE MATCH FOR SIXERS

The Manuka Oval has been quite fruitful for spinners thus far this season and it was the case for the Sixers’ slower bowlers on this occasion as well.

First, Lloyd Pope found success as soon as he was brought into the attack. The 21-year-old legspinner got the big wicket of Callum Ferguson with his second delivery which helped put the brakes on the Thunder innings. While the first four overs went for 47, the next three cost the Sixers just 13.

Meanwhile, Hales continued from where he left off in the Powerplay and notched up his second fifty of the season. He got to the landmark in just 29 deliveries, but soon after, the match turned on its head.

Stephen O'Keefe was brought on for his second over and he dismissed both set batsmen – Sam Billings for 15 and Hales for 54 – to bring the Sixers right back into the contest.

The Sixers, on the back of a superb spell from O'Keefe, then restricted the scoring rate of the Thunder. After the double strike in the 10th over, O'Keefe proceeded to dismiss Alex Ross soon after which put the Thunder on the back foot.

SAMS PROPELS THUNDER TO 166/6

The momentum in the Thunder innings ebbed and flowed, with both teams getting themselves into positions of advantage at various stages.

After losing four wickets in the first half of the innings, the onus was on Daniel Sams to give the Thunder a big finish and so he did, scoring an unbeaten 50 from 37 deliveries on his return to the playing XI. Nathan McAndrew gave Sams good support, managing 17 not out from just eight deliveries, and the duo put on a seventh-wicket partnership of 44 from 23 deliveries to propel the Thunder to 166/6 in their 20 overs.

Surprisingly, the Thunder waited until the start of the 19th over to take the Power Surge and the final two overs were reasonably productive for them, with 24 runs scored.

RAIN DELAY SEES REVISED TARGET FOR SIXERS

Due to a rain delay, the Sixers' target was revised to 129 from 14 overs and they got off to a fantastic start. Josh Philippe, one of the best young talents in Australian cricket, began superbly, taking 23 runs off a Jonathan Cook over.

The Sixers needed 67 runs from the first seven overs to secure the Bash Boost point and they managed that with more than an over to spare. The star of the show for the defending champions was Philippe who played one of the best knocks of the season.

While the Sixers seemed to be cruising to victory, Ben Cutting gave the Thunder some hope with the wicket of James Vince which was quickly followed by Tanveer Sangha dismissing Daniel Hughes.

PHILIPPE’S FIFTY DOES THE TRICK FOR SIXERS

Due to the revised conditions, the Sixers had only one over of Power Surge up their sleeve and they decided to use it in the 11th over. But it didn't begin as per the plans of the batting team as Jordan Silk was dismissed by Sams off the first ball of the over. 

Dan Christian then offered a half-chance off the first delivery he faced, but it was a very difficult catch and Ross couldn't take it. From thereon, the Sixers eased to victory with Philippe scoring a glorious 64 and Christian chipping in with a couple of big hits.

The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman had to head back to the pavilion when only one run was required. While he was bitterly disappointed to have not finished the match himself, he had done more than enough for the Sixers' cause. Carlos Brathwaite then proceeded to hit a first-ball boundary to complete the formalities.

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Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers - Match 38 - Big Bash League, 2020/21Sydney ThunderSydney SixersBig Bash League, 2020/21

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