The result: Adelaide Strikers 9-152 (Dunk 37, Abbott 5-16) def Sydney Sixers 104 (Billings 40, Stanlake 3-17) by 48 runs
Match in a tweet: Strikers back in business with crushing victory. What about big, bustling Billy Stanlake? Top prospect!
The turning point: The Sydney Sixers were cruising at 0-34 after four overs in pursuit of the Adelaide Strikers’ 9-152 and looked on track to record their third win from four matches. But the wicket of English import Jason Roy – caught by Chris Jordan off the bowling of Ben Laughlin – triggered a catastrophic collapse and the Sixers had no answer against a disciplined bowling unit. The visitors lost 7-30 at Adelaide Oval to slip to 7-64 and were eventually rolled for 104. Billy Stanlake (3-17), Laughlin (2-10), Liam O’Connor (2-12) and Jordan (2-27) shared the spoils as the Strikers notched their first win of the season and breathed life into their campaign.
Big, bustling Billy: He’s only 22 years of age and has played just two first-class matches, but towering fast bowler Stanlake showcased his potential. Not only did Stanlake push the speed gun toward the 150kph barrier, he claimed the key wicket of Brad Haddin. Stanlake sent down a short-pitched 144kph thunderbolt, pushing the former Australia vice-captain back into his crease and, ultimately, into his stumps as he was out hit-wicket. After going wicketless in his first appearance against the Perth Scorchers, Stanlake returned 3-17 to put his name up in lights. “He’s an exciting prospect. Bowls good pace and swings it away from the right-handers,” Strikers coach Jason Gillespie observed during the match.
The catch: Englishman Sam Billings had made his way to 40 from only 30 balls and was the last hope for the Sixers as they worked their way to 7-99. The right-hander smashed a full, wide delivery straight back at Jordan, who miraculously clung on despite the limited reaction time and then flashed a sheepish grin as Billings could only shake his head in wonder. If there was any doubt about Jordan’s status as one of the world’s best fielders, the fast bowler erased those and added another grab to a growing list of classic catches.
Run-scoring machine: Brad Hodge is one of only three batsmen to score more than 7000 runs in T20 matches – Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum are the others – and the 42-year-old veteran continues to deliver. The Strikers skipper has contributed scores of 27 not out, 56 and 36 in BBL|06, giving him an impressive average of 59.5. Hodge has shown no signs of losing his unquestionable ability in the shorter format and, more importantly, his team now has their first win on the board and some much-needed momentum after defeats against the Brisbane Heat and Perth Scorchers.
High-five: Sean Abbott became just the fifth man in KFC Big Bash League history to bag a five-wicket haul. The 24-year-old finished with 5-16 to spearhead the the Sixers’ charge and collected an impressive list of scalps, headlined by dangerous trio Brad Hodge, Travis Head and Ben Dunk. Abbott joined Lasith Malinga, Samuel Badree, Nathan Lyon and Dan Christian on the list of players to have taken five wickets in a BBL fixture, with his figures the best for the Sixers in the six-year history of the competition. Abbott’s previous best haul in a Twenty20 match was 3-8, but he showed in this match he is not just a dangerous lower-order hitter, but also a skilful paceman. “Excellent skills, perfect execution, wonderful result” was how former Australia wicketkeeper and Channel Ten commentator Adam Gilchrist described Abbott’s display. He now has the second-best ever BBL figures overall, behind Malinga’s 6-7 for the Melbourne Stars in 2012. His team lost, but Abbott was a deserved recipient of the official man-of-the match award. Think otherwise, click below to cast your vote.
Abbott’s revenge: Australia ODI representative Head spanked Abbott all around Adelaide Oval in the corresponding fixture in BBL|05. Head contributed a rapid-fire century from 53 balls, smashed nine sixes and hit seven maximums from his last 14 deliveries as the Strikers claimed a remarkable victory. Needing 51 to win off the final three overs, Head hit 27 off Abbott’s third over – and the 18th of the innings – before clearing the fence three times in as many balls to secure victory in the final over. Abbott leaked 45 runs from his last nine deliveries and finished with 1-57 from 3.3 overs. Tonight he removed Head for only eight, courtesy of a classic catch from Will Somerville. Given the pounding he took last year, no one could begrudge Abbott his moment on centre stage.
Vital strikes: The Strikers were cruising at 1-91 in the 10th over and looked on track to post a formidable score with experienced heads Hodge and Dunk at the crease. Abbott removed Dunk in his first over and then sent Hodge and Head back to the pavilion with consecutive deliveries in his next over. Suddenly, the Strikers had slipped to 4-100 and finished 9-152. They only managed 58 runs from their final 10 overs, with Abbott also dismissing Jordan and debutant Tom Andrews.
Pollard perplexed: You don’t see this very often! The Strikers’ West Indian import Kieron Pollard literally had a ball slip through his fingers late in tonight’s match. The faux pas generated plenty of laughter in the commentary box.
Roy oh boy: Roy has four centuries to his name in T20 matches and he gave an insight into his potential in the second over of the Sixers’ innings when he reverse swept an offering from off-spinner Head over the square leg fence. It was doubtless one of the shots of the BBL so far (but we don’t think it had Chris Lynn’s massive maximum off Shaun Tait covered). While Roy contributed only 18 after knocks of 27 and 40 in his first two matches, he looks a capable player at the top of the order. Speaking before the tournament, former Australia wicketkeeper and sixers gloveman Haddin had high hopes for the 26-year-old who has represented England 16 times in T20 and 32 times in ODIs. “Jason Roy’s going to be one to watch through the Big Bash. He’s not going to die wondering,” Haddin said on Sky Sports radio.
The Crowd: Another bumper crowd packed into Adelaide Oval for the New Year’s Eve encounter. After 46,389 fans witnessed last year’s encounter, 45,471 showed up to watch the Strikers kick-start their season. And those who opted to delay their celebrations certainly got value for money.
Strikers XI: Hodge (c), Andrews, Dunk, Head, Jordan, Laughlin, Lehmann, O'Connor, Pollard, Stanlake, Weatherald #BBL06— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 31, 2016
Sixers XI: Henriques (c), Abbott, Billings, Bollinger, Botha, Dwarshuis, Haddin, Hughes, Maddinson, Roy, Somerville #BBL06— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 31, 2016