Brisbane Heat 6/186 (20 Overs) Defeated by Sydney Sixers 7/191 (19.4 Overs) @ The Gabba
Hughes The Hero As Sixers Come From The Clouds
A Daniel Hughes masterclass helped propel the Sydney Sixers to a come from behind victory against the Brisbane Heat, to move up to third place in BBL6. The Sixers had looked in a world of trouble at 4/91 after 11 overs in their chase of the Heat's 186, with most of their big guns back in the shed. However, Hughes and veteran wicket keeper Brad Haddin belted a 59-run partnership from just 26 balls to lift the Sixers off the canvas. When Haddin went for 32, and Hughes for a brilliant 85, The Sixers wobbled towards the finish, screaming over the line in a fraught final over thanks to a top edge from Sean Abbott on the third last ball of the game. With the victory, the Sixers continue their pattern of trading wins and losses and now sit at 3-2 and on the cusp of a finals' spot. The Heat dropped their first game of BBL and are still sitting relatively pretty at 3-1 however have things to brush up upon if they want to be a force come finals time.
Intelligent Hughes Under Rated
I've got to admit I had question mark over whether Daniel Hughes should be opening the batting for the Sydney Sixers. The Sixers had no less than five T20 Internationals in their line-up including Nic Maddinson, Jason Roy, Moises Henriques, Sam Billings and Brad Haddin. However, Hughes upstaged them all last night with a really intelligent and crafty 85 from 55 balls, to help steer his side out of trouble and to another victory. As Hughes proved in the recent Matador Cup, he is not the most eye catching player, however he is mighty effective and can score in all areas of the ground. Hughes can look quite ungainly with some of his bottom handed drives and cuts, however he showed a level of composure and high skill to manipulate the ball into the vast gaps square of the wicket, as well as punching some straighter blows towards and over the straight boundaries. While his bigger name team mates were falling to some cavalier shots, Hughes stuck to his game plan, and if I were being honest, once he passed 20 he looked in complete control as he chipped and bunted the Heat mad. Hughes has a decent T20 average of 29, however his strike rate is on the low side at 133, however more innings like last night and that will climb as he gains more experience and confidence.
Veteran Haddin Makes His Mark
Brad Haddin hadn't looked particularly great in BBL6 with the bat or the gloves coming into last night's match with the Heat. Age might have finally caught up with Haddin as he searched for form. I remember Ricky Ponting towards the end of his career getting out in a few ugly ways that you would have never seen him do at the peak of his powers. When Haddin made a mess of his own stumps facing Billy Stanlake, I thought it might be a sign that Haddin's reflexes had got that split second slower. He would have been embarrassed to get out hit wicket as he has always been a great competitor and fiercely combative batsman. However, last night Haddin showed he still remains a real fighter by coming up huge in the clutch for the Sixers. Coming in with his side four down and behind the run rate, Haddin was fearless. In his 32 from 13 balls he went hard from Ball 1 and turned the game on its head as he played in a typically belligerent manner. Haddin has always been an extremely unselfish cricketer and he could have easily taken 10 balls to chip it around and get himself in. However, it has never been his way. He is the ultimate team mate who is respected by everyone. Not only did Haddin show guts, but he showed on his day he can still take a few bowlers down.
Heat Not The Finished Article
Opposition teams would have looked on last night as the Heat suffered their first defeat of the season and noticed a few chinks in their armour. While their batting remains the most destructive and most consistent in the BBL, they probably could have capitalised a fraction more after being 0 for 70 from their opening 6 overs. I still have a few question marks over the Heat's pace attack after they let slip a game that was in their control last night. The Gabba can be a difficult ground to defend, so conceding 190 is not as bad as it sounds. However it's clear the Heat lack another banker around leg spinner Samuel Badree. Mark Steketee went for 15 runs per over while Ben Cutting went at 12 runs per over. Nick Buchanan and Jake Wildermuth showed glimpses of poise and skill under pressure , however overall it's a pretty inexperienced Heat bowling attack that can be got at especially in tense situations. The Heat are still sitting pretty at 3-1, however it's often bowlers that win you championships. The batsmen might get you there, however in the big elimination games, it's often the side with the best attack that will come up trumps.
Lurker Proves His Class
It's been a bumpy start to 2017 for The Lurker, however after 15 games he now stands at 12-3 after pulling for another big upset victory with the Sixers inflicting the Heat's first defeat of BBL6. The Lurker also lobbed with Ben Cutting taking the equal most wickets for the Heat. The Lurker is still batting at a remarkable 80% win rate and will be looking to improve on that mark as the Stars travel to Sydney tonight to take on the Thunder.