Big Bash Highlights-Dan Christian’s quickfire 61 propels Sydney Sixers to top of the table: A masterclass in finishing by Dan Christian lifted Sydney Sixers to a thrilling victory over the Brisbane Heat on the Gold Coast and returned them to the top of the Big Bash League table.
The Sixers restricted the Heat to 148, aided by a pitch that offered a modicum of seam movement for the bowlers, then shrugged off an indifferent start through the calmness of Christian and the captain Daniel Hughes, who also passed 50.
Christian’s combination of power, match awareness and experience shone through clearly in the closing overs, as the Heat had a few chances to snatch the match but failed to take them. On a night that was not the easiest for finding the boundary, Christian’s personal tally of five sixes out of his unbeaten 61 was more than the rest of the two teams combined could manage – four. Dan Christian swings one into the leg side CA/Cricket
Subdued Lynn the anchor
This match was billed, somewhat predictably, as one of big hitting and aggression, since no-one is meant to personify such things in the BBL as much as Chris Lynn. However, a spongy, seam-friendly surface on the Gold Coast quickly forced some rethinking in the middle by Lynn and the Heat after they were sent in by the Sixers. While Max Bryant reached the boundary a couple of times off Steve O’Keefe’s opening over and Lynn had similar success against Jackson Bird in the second, momentum soon began to be lost as the surface made things difficult.
There were times in the past where Lynn might have proffered a rash shot in such circumstances, but here he tried instead to anchor the innings, attempting to build a platform for later acceleration even as other wickets fell around him. A 51-run stand with Jimmy Peirson gave the Heat a chance to do so, though the union was ended when Bird managed to catch Peirson in freakish fashion when he spilled the ball only to see it wedge between his knees.
Brathwaite wobbles his way to four-for
Lynn made it as far as the 16th over before skying one off the bowling of Brathwaite, who found to his delight that the pitch allowed for his medium pacers to either move just enough laterally or offer up variation in pace off the wicket to flummox the Heat middle order. He had already defeated Joe Burns, edging behind, and went on to find a bouncing seaming delivery for James Bazley that would not have been out of place if bowled by Pat Cummins at the concurrent SCG Test.
Solace for the Heat was found in the form of a punchy cameo from Lewis Gregory, who did better than the rest of the lineup in terms of locating the timing necessary to clear the rope. Gregory’s two sixes, both of them enormous, were enough to ensure the Heat made it to the cusp of 150, aided too by another strong blow delivered by Jack Wildermuth. Jake Ball’s three wickets in support of Brathwaite were, in costing 25 from two overs, a little on the expensive side.
Bartlett, Wildermuth put Sixers on back foot
While Xavier Bartlett didn’t claim a wicket in his opening spell, he set a significant tone for the Heat with the away swing and seam he was able to gain to beat the bat more than once and underline how this was no straightforward chase for the Sixers. At the other end, Wildermuth was able to capitalise, having Josh Phillipe pouched at midwicket after Bryant had dropped him on the boundary forward of square leg, and winning an lbw verdict against Jack Edwards.
Lynn was able to call upon Mujeeb Ur Rahman to followup, and when he coaxed James Vince to pull stylishly into deep midwicket’s hands and then clean bowled Jordan Silk with a variation that snaked back nicely between bat and pad, the Heat looked to be well and truly on course. The Sixers captain Hughes remained in occupation, and with Christian walking out to join him and the Power Surge overs still to be taken, the game was still there for the winning.
Christian, Hughes turn the tables
Although Hughes and Christian were able to claim the extra point for surpassing the Heat’s 10-over tally, they were compelled to play with a certain degree of conservatism through until the 15th over, allowing the runs equation to blow out to 10 an over required. At this point Hughes called the Power Surge, and the flood of runs followed: 37 runs in all with four boundaries taken off Gregory and then a trio of sixes clumped by Christian off Mark Steketee.
That left 25 runs required from the final four overs, and though Hughes departed soon afterwards, to be followed by Brathwaite and O’Keefe as Bazley delivered a mature spell of fast mediums, Christian remained at the crease and in control. Needing 11 from Bartlett’s final over, Christian blazed the first well into the stands at square leg to leave only five required, before a slice dropped by Wildermuth then a hectic sprint back next ball brought a pair of twos. The last ball was an obliging full toss that Christian swung to the fine leg boundary to fetch the points for the Sixers.
Christian brought up two landmarks during the course of the game, taking his 250th wicket and scoring his 5000th run in his T20 career. He is only the fifth man to complete that double, following Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Shakib Al Hasan.