Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde
Sixers stray off line
Speaking after the match Sydney Sixers’ captain Moises Henriques said that he felt in Sydney Thunder’s Powerplay it was poor bowling more than it was good batting that contributed to the Thunder’s score of 64-1 after six overs. 39 of those runs came from just two overs – five and six, bowled by Joe Mennie and Doug Bollinger – and were indeed largely the product of poor bowling. To the left handed Eoin Morgan, Mennie and Bollinger bowled too straight and leaked four boundaries through fine leg. To the right handed Ryan Gibson, Bollinger a left-armer bowling over the wicket, gave too much width outside off stump from balls angled across the batsman and on three occasions he was lashed for fours through cover point and third man.
Sixers squeeze, Thunder splutter
In T20 cricket after the Powerplay when the field drops back and more spinners are deployed the pace of the game changes. Here the Sixers thrived on the transition while the Thunder struggled as the three overs immediately after the Powerplay brought just ten runs and the wicket of Morgan. Stephen O’Keefe and Johan Botha bowled very straight and Sean Abbott in a channel outside off stump, angled in from round the wicket. With boundary-riders on both sides of the ground the boundary supply was cut-off, but crucially eight dot balls were bowled too as Morgan and Gibson struggled to pierce the gaps, twice timing shots straight to fielders, and on one occasion Morgan swung wildly and missed.
The Thunder had got ahead of the game in the first six overs but this stagnation prior to the collapse meant the lower-order were left with a lot of ground to catch up in the final third of the innings.
The value of good fielders was displayed spectacularly by Jason Roy as his full length dive at backward point turned what would have been a four through third man into a wicket, transforming Thunder’s post-Powerplay blip into a Sixers surge. Later in the innings the Sixers’ other England import Sam Billings took a fine tumbling catch running in at mid-wicket to dismiss Gibson.
Short and straight is the best place to bowl to Andre Russell who has on occasion been floored by short balls in the past. Against such a powerful player it won’t always work and will sometimes be punished, but here Bollinger was rewarded for just that line and length with the key wicket, as the pitch map below illustrates.
Attack: two can play at that game
With the wicket of Russell, Thunder had lost four for 15. After the onslaught of the Powerplay the tables had turned. Henriques spotted the opportunity and went on the attack, bringing in a slip for the new man Chris Green. The move was vindicated moments later as Green edged his second ball straight to Daniel Hughes at a wide second slip who took a sharp catch.
Thunder’s fielding let the Sixers slip away
Fielding proved to be a major difference between these two teams: the Sixers recorded a fielding impact score of +11.2 – 27.25 runs more than the Thunder’s -16.05. While the Sixers took some excellent catches to restrict the Thunder to a below-par score, the Thunder made some costly errors, turning what could have been a tight chase in to a procession. Henriques, who finished with 76* (41) was dropped twice, first on 0 (1) by Clint McKay at short fine leg – a tough but catchable chance – and then on 28 (26) by Pat Cummins – a tougher chance, running back at mid wicket – but one Roy, for example, would have taken.
Additionally, just before the second drop, building pressure was diminished as Gurinder Sandhu conceded four through his legs at short third man. When defending a low score the fielding team can’t afford to make such mistakes.
Although the Thunder’s fielding let them down and Henriques off, Sixers’ number three made the most of his good fortune and played a captain’s innings to guide the chase. He displayed wonderfully clean ball-striking, with just 5 (2) of his 76 runs coming from edges and 51 (12) coming from well-timed shots, in contrast 12 (4) of Hughes’ 54* (49) came from edges or gloved deflections, while 16 (7) came from well-timed shots. Perhaps the most important of Henriques eleven boundaries was a shot of class, not power. In the tenth over after just 11 runs had come from the preceding 14 deliveries, he cut a quicker ball from Ahmed off middle stump and through third man to release the pressure.