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BBL 2019-20 | Sixers vs Stars - Ask Me Anything ft. The Grand Finale choke and 'Sydney Spinners'

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BBL 2019-20 | Sixers vs Stars - Ask Me Anything ft. The Grand Finale choke and 'Sydney Spinners'

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Anirudh Suresh

02/08/2020

'It's happened again, It's happened againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, Melbourne Starssssssssssssss, it's happened againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.' Yes, it's happened again. But what's happened again? And what actually went on in the final? In this AMA session, I've listed out every single detail from the match.

Wasn’t it supposed to rain like 100 mm in Sydney today or something? Did the match even happen?

YES and YES. Yes, it was expected to rain HEAVILY in Sydney today and YES, the match did happen. 

AWESOME. But did we get a full 20-over contest? Weren’t a lot of players whining about a potentially reduced match?

I mean, they can whine all they want, but in the end, rules are rules, isn’t it? But to answer your actual question, the match was reduced to a 12-a-side contest as we lost a good one hour due to rain. And what do you usually do when it rains? You chase. So yes, that’s exactly what Stars’ skipper G Maxi did after winning the toss. 

Ah, 12 over match? Were there any interesting rule changes?

Yep, there were two major changes. Reduction of overs meant that two bowlers could bowl a maximum of 3 overs while the rest could bowl a maximum of 2 overs and, the most important one, the first powerplay was cut-short to just 3 overs. 

A three-over powerplay? AWESOME. Vince must have gone bonkers in front of a packed SCG crowd?

I like your optimistic side but at times, it’s better to stay realistic, you know. First of all, Vince pulled off a disasterclass, scoring 2 off 9 balls. Second of all, SYDNEY CRICKET GROUND WAS EMPTY TODAY.  I barely counted like twenty five people in the stands. Not even kidding.

What? How can it be possible for a batsman to bat THAT SLOW in a 12-over FINAL?

Oh had you seen it, you’d have sympathized with Vince. The ball - thanks to the conditions and the floodlights - were swinging and seaming around like SOMETHING. And of course, Stars had one of the best exponents of swing bowling in Australia, Daniel Worrall, at their disposal. So you gotta feel for the man. 

Seems like a pretty dull start then. Did the Sixers fold up top?

So, I told you that it was swinging and seaming around, right? Who is the one batsman you’d want in your team when its swinging and seaming around? Oooooh. You guessed it. You guessed it. 

WHAT DID STEVE SMITH DO?

Oh relax, relax. He proved his T20 prowess to the world today and in a span of 12 balls, tilted the momentum in the Sixers’ favour. My favorite shot was his SIX off Haris Rauf. 21 off 12 was what he managed.

Wonderful. Did Haris Rauf do the damage with the ball for the Stars, by the way?

Now this is going to catch you by surprise. Rauf went wicketless alright, but ONLY ONE WICKET was taken by the Stars pacers today. It was all about their spinners.

Knew it. Knew that Clint Hinchliffe and Adam Zampa would torment the batsman.

Haha what? Hinchliffe was benched today, you know.  It was the ZAMPS-MAXI duo that did the damage. They combined for figures of 5-0-41-4. They literally broke the Sixers’ back. MAXI EVEN GOT SMITH! 

OH MY GOD I FORGOT ABOUT JOSH PHILIPPE. WHAT DID HE DO?

I was waiting for this question. I was so waiting for this question. Boy did he show his worth today. It was an outrageous exhibition of hitting on a genuinely tricky wicket to bat. He ended up scoring a 29-ball 52 and was there till the VERY LAST OVER.

So how much did the Sixers eventually end up with?

116 is what they managed to score off their allotted 12 overs and they got to that mark thanks to some crips lower-order hitting from Jordan Silk. He has really stood up under pressure this season. 

117 of 12 overs? Seems like a gettable target for the Stars. THEY HAVE STOINIS FOR GOD’S SAKE.

YES STOINIS HIT A SIX ON JUST THE THIRD BALL OF THE CHASE FOR GOD’S SAKE. But. But. But. But he got out on the very next ball. And to who? Nathan Lyon of all people. 

Wait WHAT? Sixers opened the bowling with a spinner?

Not one, but two of the three powerplay overs were bowled by spinners. And guess what? Steve O’Keefe accounted for the wicket of Maxwell in his very first over. That was the masterstroke of the highest order from skipper Moises Henriques. 

I’m actually surprised that they did not give the new ball to Josh Hazlewood.

Hold your horses, hold your horses. I told you two overs were bowled by spinners. So do the math, no? Hazlewood bowled the second over of the chase and TOOK ONE WICKET WHILE JUST CONCEDING ONE RUN. In fact, he finished his first spell with figures of 2-0-6-1. MADNESS, AIN’T IT?

Forget that, did Nic Maddinson fire AT LEAST today?

Maddo has forgotten how to bat in T20 cricket, I tell you. He scored a four-ball duck today, which took his tournament tally to 143 runs from 14 innings. That’s an average of 10.21, FYI!

Maxwell and Stoinis are gone, Maddinson is also gone, so are you telling me that the Stars did a Stars in the final AGAIN?

HELL YEAH I DID. I’m not sure why I’m excited. It’s actually sad. Within no time, they were reduced to 25-4 and 40-5. Their last hope, Peter Handscomb was dismissed in a TRAGICOMIC run-out. Let me show you the picture, hold on.

Here is the Peter Handscomb run-out. HIDEOUS. COMICAL. You couldn’t make this s*** up.

Oh boy, that is heartbreaking. Did they even put up a fight?

When you have a character like Nick Larkin in the team, there’s one thing that you can be sure of: getting a fight. Last match he starred with an unbeaten 83, and this match, he once again stayed till the end, scoring an unbeaten 38. Make that 121 runs without getting dismissed for Nick. 

I remember reading rumours of Ben Dunk getting a recall. Did he play?

You bet he did. This was his first match in almost a month and well, he did start it off well by launching a huge six off the bowling of SOK, but soon perished to Lyon.

WOW Nathan Lyon again? Looks like the spin twins wreaked havoc.

Hell yeah they did. They combined for figures of 5-0-46-4 and were almost as good as the Stars spinners. Noticed something? The spinners from both sides accounted for figures of 10-0-87-8. EIGHT FOR EIGHTY SEVEN. When you can get figures like this in a final, who even needs pacers? 

So it did happen again then. The Stars choked again and the Sixers were crowned champions?

It did, my friend, it did. It did happen again. This was the Stars’ THIRD runners-up finish and for the Sixers, it was their second BBL title. 

Gotta feel for Maxi. Anyway, what was the turning point in your opinion?

The first three overs of the chase. I mean, you gotta laud the courage of Henriques to open with spin in the powerplay. WHO DOES THAT? That too in a final? In a team that has Maxwell and Stoinis? That was one gutsy move and I’m glad that it paid off. The match was won by Henriques’ brain as much as it was won by the bat of Josh Philippe. 

So, any final thoughts on BBL 09?

This was supposed to be a Q & A session for only this match, remember? Don’t just expect me to give away everything in one article for your convenience. But hey, stick around. In a couple of hours, I’ll be putting out a separate article where I’ll be writing my takeaways on BBL 09 and what it means for Australian cricket. Until then, SEE YA! 

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