Sport Sydney Sixers finish top to knock Melbourne Stars out of BBL finals

Sydney Sixers finish top to knock Melbourne Stars out of BBL finals

Sydney Sixers’ Ben Dwarshuis enjoys dismissing Nick Larkin at the MCG on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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Defending champions Sydney Sixers have charged into another BBL finals series as the top seed after a five-wicket win over Melbourne Stars.

The Sixers needed just one competition point at the MCG on Tuesday night to finish the regular season on top of the ladder.

They won the bat flip and opted to bowl first, prioritising their pursuit of the bonus point, and restricted the Stars to 6-177.

The plan worked a treat as James Vince (46) and Moises Henriques (38) ensured the Sixers chased down the required 73 for the bonus point with two overs to spare.

Dan Christian (49 not out) and Jordan Silk (34 not out) then guided the Sixers to 5-180, grabbing the overall win with one ball to spare and rubbing salt into the Stars’ wounds.

The result means the Sixers will host Perth Scorchers in Canberra in the ‘qualifier’ final, with the winner to advance to the season decider.

“We knew that if we played our best cricket with bat and ball that we were not only going to be good enough to get one point, but the full four,” man of the match Ben Dwarshuis said after claiming 3-27 for the Sixers.

“They needed the full four and we knew that if we got one that helped us and knocked them out, so it was a bit of a double-blow for them, but it was nice to be on the right side of it.”

The Stars, runners-up for the past two seasons, missed out on the finals despite captain Glenn Maxwell blasting 66 from 41 balls.

He hit nine fours and a six in an innings that featured an array of inventive shots, and did the bulk of the scoring during the power surge as the Stars took 29 runs from Sean Abbott and Carlos Brathwaite.

Hilton Cartwright (38 off 19) took the reins late in the innings and blasted three sixes from the final four deliveries bowled by Jake Ball (0-38).

Dwarshuis and fellow quick Abbott (2-28) both bowled well for the Sixers, while left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe (0-21) was impressive in four overs on his return to the side.

“It’s pretty upsetting,” Maxwell said.

“(Losing the toss) was a big part of it.

“Being able to chase and know what you have to get in the first 10 overs is a big key and you can decide how hard or easy you need to go.

“The wicket certainly changed as well.

“We saw a lot of balls pop and Steve O’Keefe was getting the ball to grip and stop, and then it just skidded on nicely in the second innings.

“We tried as hard as we could … but it just wasn’t to be.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Brisbane Heat downed table toppers Perth Scorchers by six runs in a nerve-jangler at Adelaide Oval to reach the playoffs.

Labuschagne made 46 in Brisbane’s 6-181 and then took three wickets as Heat survived a late Mitchell Marsh scare to prevail by six runs.

The news was not so good for Hobart Hurricanes, which blew a chance to advance by losing to bottom side Melbourne Renegades by 11 runs.