Melbourne Stars had the opportunity to qualify for the playoffs but were outclassed by Sydney Sixers in the final league game of the Big Bash League 2020/21 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday (January 26). The likes of Ben Dwarshuis and Daniel Christian starred for the Sixers who won the game by five wickets and knocked Glenn Maxwell and Co. out of the tournament. The Sixers finished at the top of the points table and also helped Adelaide Strikers to make it through to the finals.
The Stars looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights as they allowed Sydney to dictate terms in most parts of the game. The Men in Green needed to win this encounter with the Bash Boost point but only managed 72 in their first 10 overs. Maxwell (41-ball 66) and Hilton Cartwright (19-ball 38*) got them to a solid total of 177/6, but the Sixers claimed the Bash Boost point with the utmost ease and ended the Stars' campaign. Melbourne understandably looked out of place and Christian (23-ball 49*) and Jordan Silk (25-ball 35*) joined hands to lead Sydney to a five-wicket win. They will now take on Perth Scorchers in the 'Qualifier'.
MAXWELL AND CARTWRIGHT FIRE, BUT A BIT TOO LATE
The Stars openers - Marcus Stoinis and Seb Gotch - meant business from the word go and the two took the attack to Sydney from the word go. Gotch and Stoinis managed a boundary each in the first over and made their intentions pretty clear. Stoinis (12) looked in solid touch but before he could do any major damage, the big allrounder whipped one straight to short fine leg. It was Dwarshuis (3/27) who gave Sydney the first breakthrough but Gotch kept the attack going.
The wicketkeeper-batsman smoked Carlos Brathwaite down the ground for the first maximum of the match, as the Stars got 32 runs from the powerplay. In-form Nick Larkin got off the mark with an authoritative drive but struggled with the strike rotation. Gotch took it upon himself to keep the scoreboard racing but was sent back in the hut for a 13-ball 15 by Sean Abbott (2/28). Steve O'Keefe (0/21) was outstanding in the first half of the innings and hardly have anything away.
The left-arm spinner kept the pressure on Larkin and Maxwell but it was Dwarshuis who kept chipping away with wickets. The left-arm seamer ended Larkin's (18-ball 12) misery by pinning him right in front of the stumps. The Sixers bowlers were very disciplined and it was up to Maxwell to up the ante. The Stars needed all four points to get through to the playoffs and Maxwell started heaving his bat at almost everything.
Maxwell found good support from Nic Maddinson who took some time to settle in before taking the attack to Jake Ball (X-Factor). The left-hander smashed Ball for a four and a six, but before he could do any further damage, Carlos Brathwaite had him caught behind for a 15-ball 22. The Power Surge (overs 14-15) was going to be crucial for the Stars and Maxwell made the most of it. The 32-year-old smacked five fours in those two overs and in the process brought up his fifty off 29 deliveries. The Power Surge went exactly how Melbourne would have liked as they accumulated 29 off it.
Cartwright played his part and allowed Maxwell to have most of the strike. Maxwell struck nine fours and a six during his stay in the middle before he was knocked over by Abbott in the 18th over. But, that's when Cartwright stepped up and slammed Ball for three massive sixes in the last over to propel Melbourne to a competitive total.
CHRISTIAN AND CO. GET THE JOB DONE
The Stars needed early wickets and they got that from Sam Rainbird and Billy Stanlake. The former got the all-important wicket of Josh Philippe (1) with a superb off-cutter before Stanlake sent Daniel Hughes (3) back in the hut in the second over. The two seamers however bowled quite a few looseners in the powerplay and James Vince made the most of it. The opener from England along with Moises Henriques kept finding boundaries at regular intervals as the Sixers raced to 43/2 by the end of four overs.
The job got a lot easier as Vince and Henriques kept the scoreboard moving with ones and twos. The duo didn't try anything fancy against Adam Zampa and Zahir Khan and batted very smartly. The Sixers got the required 73 runs in eight overs to claim the Bash Boost point and knocked the Stars out of the tournament. Vince (32-ball 46) fell to Maddinson in the 10th over but by then "the job" was already done.
Their campaign might have been over but the Stars kept chipping away with wickets and put themselves in a commanding position. Henriques (29-ball 38) was run out, while Brathwaite (2) fell to Nathan Coulter-Nile. The Sixers only managed 15 runs in the Power Surge (overs 13-14) but Christian walked out all guns blazing and played his shots freely. He along with Silk took the game deep and got the equation down to 44 off 24.
The two kept finding boundaries as the Stars looked a bit disappointed and disinterested after the end of 10 overs. Christian first slammed Coulter-Nile for consecutive boundaries and then hit Rainbird for 11 runs in the penultimate over. With 10 needed off the final over, Christian blasted Stanlake for a six over deep square leg and then finished things off with a boundary.