The 2016-17 Big Bash League season began with a surprise as reigning champions Sydney Thunder were comprehensively defeated by last season’s bottom-placed side Sydney Sixers. Sixers’ skipper Moises Henriques was adjudged the Man of the Match for his captain’s knock of 76 off just 41 deliveries to give the Sixers a winning start to their campaign.
Unlike last season, the Sixers won the toss and Henriques opted to field first. Youngsters Kurtis Patterson and Ryan Gibson who was making his Twenty20 debut came out to open for the reigning champs. The Sixers got an early breakthrough as Patterson pulled a short delivery from Steve O’Keefe straight to short fine leg where Doug Bollinger took a comfortable catch to send the 23-year old to the pavilion.
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England limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan joined Gibson at the crease and the duo started to elevate the run-rate and Sydney Thunder were looking in a good position. Just as both batsmen were looking settled, Morgan was dismissed by Johan Botha for 26 off 19 deliveries. The Sydney Thunder soon began to lose wickets thanks to Joe Mennie and Doug Bollinger, who took the key wickets of skipper Ben Rohrer and Andre Russell respectively.
At this stage, Pat Cummins joined Ryan Gibson at the crease and the duo put on a partnership of 41 off just 29 deliveries to resurrect the Thunder’s batting. Gibson scored the first half-century of this season’s BBL while Cummins was dealing only in sixes. Gibson was finally dismissed for 53 off 43 deliveries after he pulled a short delivery from Ben Dwarshius to straight to midwicket where Sam Billings took a brilliant diving catch.
Sydney Thunder ended their innings at 159/8 in 20 overs with last season’s leading wicket-taker Clint McKay chipping in with an 11-ball cameo of 14. The Sixers’ bowling was more or less disciplined with Ben Dwarshius, Joe Mennie and Doug Bollinger picking up two wickets apiece, and Steve O’Keefe and Johan Botha picking up a wicket each.
Daniel Hughes and Jason Roy came in to open for the Sydney Sixers and the duo got the Sixers off to a flier. The defending champions saw a ray of hope when Andre Russell dismissed the flamboyant Roy for 27 off 18 balls after a slower delivery deceived the Englishman who drove it towards mid-on only for Pat Cummins to hold on to it.
Skipper Moises Henriques joined Hughes at the crease and both batsmen began to deploy a defensive approach, taking calculated risks but keeping the scoreboard ticking through ones and twos. By the end of the thirteenth over, the Sixers needed 61 to win off 42 deliveries with the required run-rate nearing 9. However, the next over turned out to be a game-changing one as Henriques switched gears, hitting twenty runs of Pat Cummins including three boundaries and a six to turn the match in the favour of the Sixers.
From here on, the Sixers gathered momentum and both batsmen reached half-centuries, with Hughes standing his ground while Henriques kept on punishing the opposition’s bowling. A risky run taken by Henriques at the end of the 18th over was enough to win the match for the Sixers. Henriques ended with a score of 76 off just 41 deliveries, smashing seven boundaries and four sixes, while Hughes ended on 54 off 49 deliveries, hitting five boundaries and a six.
As far as the Sydney Thunder bowling was concerned, Russell was the pick of the bowlers, getting the solitary wicket and going at 6.75 runs an over while all the other bowlers went at above eight-an-over.
After a winning start to their campaign, the Sydney Sixers will now host the Hobart Hurricanes at the SCG while the Sydney Thunder take on the Melbourne Renegades at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne. Tomorrow’s match features last year’s semi-finalists Adelaide Strikers and the Brisbane Heat at the Adelaide Oval.Published 20 Dec 2016, 20:58 IST