Power: Sean Abbott rescued the Sydney Sixers against the Melbourne Stars as he led them to a semi-final. Photo: Scott Barbour – CAThe Sydney Sixers have booked a ticket to Brisbane for the semi-finals after coming back from the brink of elimination to beat an undermanned Melbourne Stars at the MCG on Saturday night.
Sean Abbott silenced the partisan crowd of 46,671 with a whirlwind innings that turned impending defeat into a stirring three-wicket victory.
The come-from-behind win sets up a clash with Brendon McCullum’s Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday night for a berth in this summer’s Big Bash final. The Stars blew a chance to book a home final and must now travel to Perth for their semi on Tuesday.
The Sixers’ campaign was destined for the scrapheap after Nic Maddinson departed in the 15th over but they were rescued by the hitting power of Abbott and the smarts of veteran Johan Botha.
The pair added 59 off 28 balls for the seventh wicket to lift their side into the four at the expense of the Melbourne Renegades, who needed the Stars to win to keep their season alive.
Abbott came into the state scene as bowling all-rounder but his batting had failed to live up to expectations. But he saved one of his best innings at domestic level when the Sixers needed him most. He finished unbeaten on 33 off only 17 balls, seeing the Sixers home with an over to spare.
“To play the way he did will do wonders for his confidence,” Brad Haddin said.
The Sixers were under pressure in both innings of the game but each time they delivered the goods late.
A score around 180 was on the cards for the Stars, who were missing six first-choice players to injuries or international selection, they lost seven wickets in the final 27 balls for just 26 runs.
The Sixers would have had their sights on getting stuck into the Stars’ undermanned middle order but were made to wait before they could get through their high-class top three.
The Stars were given a strong start by foundation duo Rob Quiney and Luke Wright, who brought up their team’s 50 within the first five overs.
Quiney was looking particularly potent but after reaching 35 in a hurry clipped one off his hip to short fine leg.
It proved an important dismissal, as Quiney was threatening to destroy the Sixers and it brought about a more conservative approach from the Stars, who were wary of exposing their less experienced batsmen.
With Nathan Lyon hard to get away, the Sixers were able to rein in the Stars during the middle overs but the hosts were still well placed for a total in excess of 180.
Lyon claimed the key wicket of Wright, who made 62 off 47 balls, allowing the Sixers to capitalise on the Stars’ shallow batting.
Haddin turned the clock back by taking a one-handed classic to remove Seb Gotch though his juggled stumping of Evan Gulbis was not his smoothest piece of glovework.