Temperamental Sixers fall short as Strikers march on

Sydney Sixers vs Adelaide Strikers
Adelaide Strikers 167-3 (Carey 83*, Wells 33*, Head 29, Dwarshuis 41-2) def Sydney Sixers 161-8 (Silk 50, O’Keefe 28, Botha 25, Rashid 22-2, Stanlake 31-2, Laughlin 39-2, Neser 42-2) by 6 runs at SCG

The Adelaide Strikers came close to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, before seemingly deciding that victory was the preferred option and closing the game out for their second win of the season. It was a pair of swashbuckling innings from Steve O’Keefe and Ben Dwarshuis which threatened to get the Sydney Sixers over the line, as luck and the odd powerful shot combined to give the visitors a major late scare. 18 came off Ben Laughlin’s 19th over, and when Michael Neser, defending 16 off the last over, saw his first ball hit over mid-wicket for six, the comeback was well and truly on. It was not to be, as Neser regained his composure and sent down a series of perfect yorkers to end the match and, finally, seal a well-deserved Strikers win.

The Strikers began inauspiciously, with Jake Weatherald skying one from Dwarshuis with the first ball of the over and departing for a duck. Alex Carey and Travis Head initially steadied and then struck out, with Carey hitting a pair of towering sixes off Dwarshuis and Head hitting a wide ball for six over cover. Both timed the ball well, with Head especially prolific through point, and soon the Strikers seemed to be in a very strong position. Then Head got out. Johan Botha, standing in as captain in the absence of Moises Henriques, made the breakthrough, slipping one of his quick off breaks through Head’s sweep shot and allowing Sam Billings to whip off the bails.

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Full flow: Alex Carey hits through the off-side during his classy 83 not out.

Meanwhile, Carey continued to march on. Colin Ingram again looked out of sorts before top edging a pull shot, but Carey looked utterly unfazed as he built his innings. He hit a pair of well-timed boundaries against Will Somerville and a nice cut shot against Dwarshuis, and brought up his 50 in the 14th over. He was still there when the innings concluded on 3/167, finishing on 83 not out with some nice late overs hitting even as he tired. It was Jonathan Wells who provided the final flourish, however, seizing the initiative with some clean hitting and inventiveness. A ramp shot off Abbott ran to the boundary as Wells didn’t even bother to look back, and the highlight came when he belted Dwarshuis onto the roof with the penultimate ball of the innings. He finished with an unbeaten 33, as the Strikers hit 17 off the last over to finish on a high.

The Sixers began well enough, but the wheels soon started to fall off. Jason Roy started with some well hit boundaries, but Daniel Hughes was out early at the other end, falling for a well-executed trap and picking out the strategically placed Wells. Nic Maddinson fell victim to an excellent catch, with Carey continuing a brilliant game by sticking out a glove and holding on, and when Roy went for a big shot and saw himself caught by Jake Lehmann the Sixers were in dire straits as they ended the PowerPlay on 3/42.

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Air swing: Johan Botha has a look of immense concentration as he attempts a switch hit, but fails to make contact all the same.

At this point Jordan Silk came into his own. Brought into the side to replace Henriques, he looked fluent from the moment he came to the crease, hitting some very neat strokes through the off side to get going. He was unflustered when Rashid Khan uprooted Billings’ off stump, and joined with Botha in a partnership which stemmed the flow of wickets even while they struggled to make headway. Soon Silk had hit his stride, and cover drives off Laughlin and Head allowed him to bring up a brisk half-century as the Sixers began to mount a charge. Then it was over. Rashid stepped up again, returning to the attack and cramping Silk for room with a clumsy cut shot clipping the top of off stump. His wicket looked to have killed the game off once and for all. O’Keefe ensured it was still barely alive.

With Silk’s departure, O’Keefe came to the crease. He had been conspicuously absent from the bowling crease, but now seized his opportunity to impact the game. He swung hard from the start, with 17 coming from Neser’s third over as an edge and a well hit pull shot went to the boundary. Botha fell in the next over, and when Sean Abbott gave himself room and missed the ball completely as it cannoned into middle stump, the game looked completely over. In the end, not even the lusty swings of Dwarshuis and O’Keefe could save the Sixers, as Neser’s calm finished ensured they fell to a third consecutive defeat. The Strikers reinforced their status as title hopefuls, while the Sixers finals hopes are hanging by a thread, as disappointing top-order efforts continue to plague their season.

Top 5
1. Alex Carey (Adelaide Strikers)
Carey was rock solid throughout the Strikers’ innings, providing a perfect foundation and hitting some very nice shots on his way to a solid 83 not out. He combined particularly well with Head and Wells, and his keeping was as sharp as ever. Capped his night off with a brilliant one-handed catch in a deserved man-of-the-match performance.
2. Jordan Silk (Sydney Sixers)
Silk gave the Sixers an outside chance with his calmness under pressure, despite being the least-heralded member of the Sixers’ theoretically strong batting line-up. He played the ball beautifully through the off-side, and finished with a very nice 50. He is unlikely to be dropped now, even when Henriques returns to the side.
3. Jonathan Wells (Adelaide Strikers)
Wells gave the Strikers the late impetus they needed to post a strong total, improvising nicely but also displaying tremendous power. His hit onto the roof of the Bill O’Reilly Stand was a remarkable one, and capped off an excellent innings.
4. Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers)
Rashid showed his class once again, starting slowly but building into it as his spell progressed. He removed Billings just as he was looking to attack, and his dismissal of Silk seemed to seal the game for the Strikers. He mixed things up well, and barely bowled a bad ball in four overs.
5. Ben Dwarshuis (Sydney Sixers)
Dwarshuis grabbed a pair of important wickets, and generally bowled well even if he was on the end of some extraordinary hitting. His batting at the end of the innings gave the Sixers a fighting chance, as he hit a pair of big sixes and combined fearlessly with O’Keefe to give the Strikers a massive scare.

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