The Sydney Sixers claimed a last-gasp semi-final berth on Saturday night, defeating the Melbourne Stars by three wickets in the last match of the BBL regular season.
The Sixers were fifth on the ladder before Saturday night’s pivotal clash at the MCG, but chased down a modest target of 157 runs with one over to spare to leap into third spot.
The loss cost the Stars a home final. With the result, cross-town rivals the Melbourne Renegades, who were in fourth place, were also knocked out of finals contention.
In the semi-finals, the Stars will take on the Perth Scorchers at the WACA Ground on Tuesday and the Sixers will face the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday.
The Sixers were in deep trouble at 6-97 after 14.1 overs but Sean Abbott – not out 33 from 17 balls – and Johan Botha (25 off 13) turned the game, belting 27 runs in two overs, and sharing a match-winning 59-run partnership.
The Sixers did well to restrict the home side to 8-156 from their 20 overs after skipper Moises Henriques won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Openers Luke Wright and Rob Quiney had the Stars off to a flyer, but Quiney’s departure (35 from 19 balls) signalled a swing in momentum.
The Stars were 1-59 after six overs, but Nathan Lyon bowled superbly through the middle of the innings to help apply the brakes, finishing with figures of 2-18.
— Cricket Australia (@CAComms) January 21, 2017
Ben Dwarshuis was also important for the Sixers with figures of 3-25.
Wright and Kevin Pietersen shared a key 71-run partnership but, when Wright was bowled for 62 from 47 balls, the Stars fell in a heap.
Evan Gulbis, Seb Gotch – brilliantly caught by a diving Brad Haddin – and skipper David Hussey all departed cheaply just as the Stars needed to accelerate.
Pietersen made 39 from 36 deliveries but never looked comfortable at the crease and was caught in the deep with the score on 150 with one over remaining.
Earlier in the evening Shaun Marsh has found form with the bat to help steer the Perth Scorchers to a home BBL semi-final with a seven-wicket win over the Hobart Hurricanes.
The hosts batted first at Bellerive Oval and set a lacklustre target of 135 which Perth hunted down with more than six overs to spare.
The result cemented a top-two position for the Scorchers and ended Hobart’s season.
Marsh made 57 from 34 deliveries for his best score this season, coming on the back of single-figure contributions in four of his past five innings and an average of 11.
On Saturday, he reached a half-century from 29 deliveries and went on to finish with seven boundaries and two sixes.
“It’s nice to get a few (runs) finally, but I really thought the bowlers set it up for us,” Marsh told WIN TV after play.
His knock included an 82-run partnership with opener Michael Klinger (29) who was caught trying to scoop a delivery from legspinner Cameron Boyce (1-44).
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 21, 2017
Earlier, Sam Whiteman (nine) was caught and bowled in an impressive dismissal by Clive Rose (1-28).
Skipper Adam Voges (20no) and Ashton Turner (16) were Perth’s unbeaten batsmen.
Voges won the toss on Saturday and chose to bowl first, with the hosts making a shaky start.
Opener D’Arcy Short top-scored for the home side with 36 as the Hurricanes quickly sank to 5-69 by the 12th over.
Former Test paceman Mitchell Johnson spearheaded Perth’s bowling attack, taking 2-15 from his four overs as Hobart struggled to scrape together a miserly 6-134.
Tim Bresnan (2-20) was also handy with the ball.