Half-centuries by Alex Hales and Daniel Sams were not enough for the Thunder who suffered a middle-order slump
Sydney Sixers 5 for 132 (Philippe 64, Sams 2-25) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 166 (Hales 54, Sams 50*, O’Keefe 3-15) by five wickets (DLS method)
Sydney Sixers stayed top of the table with a convincing victory in the first derby of the season against Sydney Thunder as Josh Philippe‘s 24-ball half-century ensured they were always ahead in a rain-adjusted chase.
Alex Hales provided the Thunder with a flying start as he made a 29-ball half-century, but they lost their way against Steve O’ Keefe, who claimed career-best figures for the second time this season, and it needed a measured half-century from Daniel Sams to ensure the innings did not completely fall away.
After a heavy shower at the change of innings, the Sixers were left with a 14-over chase and Philippe put them on course by taking 23 off the second over from Jono Cook. During his innings, he became the leading scorer for the season, a tag that changed hands twice during the evening with Hales briefly in pole position.
Although things had slowed after a Hales-inspired charge, the Thunder were well placed at 2 for 85 in the tenth over. That changed in the space of three balls as Sam Billings picked out long-on and Hales clubbed to deep midwicket against O’Keefe. It meant there were two new batsmen in at the midway point, forcing the Thunder into a period of consolidation and they would end up holding back the Power Surge for the final two overs. O’Keefe then added Alex Ross, lbw missing a sweep, and finished with 3 for 15 from a spell that conceded just one boundary and included 12 dot balls. Jackson Bird’s role was also noteworthy; he picked up 1 for 23 in his four overs which meant the eight between him and O’Keefe went for just 38.
Philippe looks ready
After a couple of single-figure scores, it was normal service resumed for Philippe as he launched the Sixers’ chase by tucking into Cook with four fours and six in five deliveries. By the end of the reduced three-over powerplay, he had 31 off 11 balls and the Sixers were 0 for 41. After the six-over mark, he started to lose some of the strike as the chase got a bit tighter but was able to bring up a 24-ball fifty – the fastest of his BBL career. There are a lot of people wanting to bat at the top of the order for Australia in T20Is but it’s becoming difficult to see how much Philippe can be denied his chance. Perhaps the series against New Zealand in late February?
Last chance dropped
The wickets of James Vince and Daniel Hughes in the space of five balls gave the Thunder some hope and when Jordan Silk fell to the first delivery of the Power Surge – which was limited to one over – as he spliced Sams into the leg side the Sixers needed 32 off 23 balls. Two balls later, Dan Christian skied his first delivery into the off side but Ross could not hold over his shoulder as he ran back from inside the ring. In the next over from Nathan McAndrew, Christian launched two sixes and the game was done.
Hales starts, Sams finishes
It had all looked so promising for the Thunder early on as Hales showed his destructive power by taking 21 off the third over against former England team-mate Jake Ball which included two leg-side sixes. After briefly consolidating following the loss of Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson, another six, a skimming sweep off Lloyd Pope, took him to a 29-ball fifty. After the stuffing had been knocked out of the middle order, Sams nursed the innings to a stage where they could push hard in the final few overs although 24 from the last two – which were the Power Surge – was manageable for the Sixers. Sams’ resurgent batting form continued with his second fifty of the season, brought up with a boundary off the final ball after Carlos Braithwaite had managed three consecutive dots in the last over.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 to kick off on April 9, will be played across Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata
The tournament will be played behind closed doors “to begin with”, and all games will be at neutral venues during the league phase
IPL 2021 will be played in India from April 9, across six cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The tournament will be played behind closed doors “to begin with”, and all games will be at neutral venues during the league phase.
More to follow…
England complete 3-0 sweep as New Zealand tumble for 96
Brunt strikes twice in first over as England defend 128 with ease
England women 128 for 9 (Wilson 31*, Dunkley 26, Devine 3-30) beat New Zealand women 96 (Satterthwaite 25, Villers 3-10, Brunt 2-19)
England fast bowler Katherine Brunt led the way in a commanding bowling performance in Wellington, as her team comprehensively beat New Zealand by 32 runs to complete a 3-0 series sweep.
Six different England players got among the wickets, as New Zealand, chasing 129 for a consolation victory, failed to get any sort of momentum going, eventually being dismissed for 96 in 18 overs.
The hosts were pegged back very early in the chase, as Brunt trapped the openers Sophie Devine and Hayley Jensen lbw for ducks in the first over. Amy Satterthwaite at No.3 provided a brief resistance, top-scoring with 25, but once she was dismissed by Sarah Glen in the eighth over, New Zealand withered away, losing at least one wicket each over till the 13th. Legspinner Mady Villiers struck three times in the space of 10 deliveries to reduce the hosts to 60 for 8, before Sophie Ecclestone and Natalie Sciver mopped up the tail to seal the win.
England had earlier recovered from a slow start to post 128 for 9, thanks largely to Fran Wilson‘s unbeaten 23-ball 31, while Sophie Dunkley chipped in with 26. For New Zealand, Devine was the pick of the bowlers, ending with figures of 4-0-30-3.
New Zealand vs Australia, 5th T20I, 2020-21
Big-name players will return but some key areas will continue to provoke debate when Australia resume playing
Australia fought back from 2-0 down to square the series against New Zealand before suffering a heavy loss in the decider. The squad was missing at least four players who will be inked into the T20 World Cup squad, in theory given an opportunity to assess the wider options available. With the team now facing a lengthy break, what can be gleaned from the five matches?
Wade the frontrunner, but where does the keeper bat?
However this series had played out there would have been questions remaining afterwards because of the names missing, especially so at the top of the order. David Warner will return and open with Aaron Finch – that’s probably the easy bit – but at the moment it appears Australia want their gloveman in the top order as well and that’s going to be a squeeze with Steven Smith also to fit in. Matthew Wade had the gloves throughout the series and in the last match slotted in at No. 3 having previously opened and produced his best knock of the five games. Josh Philippe played two very good innings in his debut series – and may well be the man for the 2022 T20 World Cup – but for now Wade looks to have the running. With the bat he may yet be used in a floating capacity both because of his experience and the fact that he’s a left hander.
This has been a perennial debate around Australia’s T20 side. Given Ashton Turner wasn’t tried in the series before returning home early for the birth of his child it would appear to be between Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh (it’s tricky to see how both play when all the batsmen are available). Stoinis played one standout innings – the 78 off 37 balls that almost stole the game in Dunedin – and it could be his spot to lose although, like so many in this line-up, his best work domestically comes at the top of the order and at times he can still soak up too many dots. Marsh’s best innings came when batting at No. 4 in the first match, albeit in a forlorn cause, and in three of matches found himself down at No. 7 below Ashton Agar in an attempt to split up the left and right handers. He also didn’t bowl in the series following another season of injury. Daniel Sams showed what he is capable of with 41 off 15 balls in Dunedin, but the feeling is he has to compete as one of the five bowlers. Agar, whose role with the ball is vital, has yet to convince he can quite hold the batting position needed of him.
It can’t all be on Maxwell
Related to the above is the fact that it still feels as though too much of how the middle order performs (in whatever order they bat) rests on the brilliance of Glenn Maxwell. It came off spectacularly in the third game when he had the ideal mix of a platform to work with and time left in the innings as he hammered 70 off 31 balls. Either side of that he made 23 runs in four innings and Australia need to have the ability to soak up those sorts of days more easily.
Pace-bowling pecking order
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will be locked into the side which probably leaves room for one more frontline quick in the XI. It could well be a horses-for-courses approach depending on conditions and opposition. The possibility of larger World Cup squad due to Covid-19 protocols also means the tough calls may not need to be made at the outset. Riley Meredith‘s first appearances for Australia certainly caught the eye, twice beating Kane Williamson for pace to win lbw appeals, and his development at the IPL (if he plays) will be watched with interest. Kane Richardson remains a hugely versatile performer and perhaps the most dependable behind the big two. Jhye Richardson, on his international comeback, showed glimpses of the late swing that make him so dangerous. Does Josh Hazlewood come into the mix as well?
Did Australia try enough?
During the series both Finch and coach Andrew McDonald spoke of the valuable “information gathering” that had gone on even if, from the outside, it did not look like much was changing pointing to things like altering batting orders and Adam Zampa bowling more Powerplay overs. There was only one personnel change in the five games: Meredith replacing Sams after the first two matches. In truth, the series finishes with largely the same questions as it started. Five of the squad who were there the end – D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff and Tanveer Sangha – did not get a game although so many extra players wouldn’t have been on tour under normal circumstances.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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