Surprise bowling move helps Sixers past Scorchers
FOR a match that took an eternity to kick into gear, it certainly finished with a bang.
After missed run-out opportunities and wickets galore, the Sydney Sixers held their nerve to claim the win over the Perth Scorchers.
It wasn't conventional but Moises Henriques' decision to open the Sixers' bowling with spinners Johan Botha and Stephen O'Keefe proved to be stroke of genius.
While neither spinner took the wickets of the Scorchers opening pair of Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh, they went some way in unsettling the duo, who favour pace.
"It's horses for courses,” former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said.
"They've looked at the stats. Marsh and Klinger are favourable to quick bowling.”
Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist praised the move, saying batsmen that preferred pace may have a propensity to throw away their wickets through frustration when facing spin.
"I hated facing spin from the start,” Gilchrist said.
"But as an opening batsman you have to make a decision (whether to go after the spinners).”
While Klinger hit back-to-back boundaries off O'Keefe in the second over, Marsh couldn't find his mojo against the spinning duo. He was eventually removed by part-time spinner Will Sommerville.
And it was the spinners that continued the carnage, with four of the eight wickets.
Johan Botha - who was awarded man-of-the-match honours - credited his fellow spinners for restricting the Scorchers' total.
"We spoke after the previous game. It was probably a bit too much pace on,” he said.
"We brought extra spin. It worked really well. We had three spinners. As you see in Twenty20 cricket, spinners do a really good job.
"They do go to the boundary every now and then but in general the spinners did well. We thought taking a bit of pace off worked nicely.”
Even though he sounds as South African as they come, Botha is now a naturalised Australian citizen.
In other words - a berth in an Australian team, of any format, is not wholly unlikely.
Especially when you smash 30 runs off 19 balls to clinch victory for your team, after performing equally as well with the ball.
Perth Scorchers 8-130 (M Marsh 31*, Somerville 2-10) lost to Sydney Sixers 4-132 (Billings 40, Tye 3-15) by six wickets with 12 balls to spare