Centurion: Sydney Sixers kept kept their cool to beat Nashua Titans by two wickets in a nerve-wracking second semi-final of the Champions League Twenty20 here today.
Needing eight runs from the final over to reach the target of 164, Sydney Sixers' Pat Cummins held his nerves to scamper home for a bye off the last delivery as the Big Bash Champions won the most thrilling match of an otherwise drab Twenty20 competition. Sydney will now take on Highveld Lions in the final to be played on Sunday. The match went onto the wire and all three results were possible but Sydney ultimately reaped dividends due to a good opening stand.
The winners started the chase in right earnest as opener Steve O'Keefe hit offspinner Eden Links for couple of boundaries. His partner Michael Lumb got two more in the second over from Ethy Mbhalati. A flurry of boundaries from the duo saw Sydney reach 50 in the fifth over but Lumb was dismissed by Alfonso Thomas after scoring 33 off 19 balls. He offered a skier to rival captain Martin van Jaarsveld. Lumb hit six fours and a big six off Thomas.
O'Keefe however didn't let the momentum drop as Sydney maintained 10 per over run-rate. O'Keefe was finally bowled for 32 off 21 balls when he tried a wild slog of Links' delivery. He hit six fours. However O'Keefe dismissal brought about a collapse as skipper Brad Haddin and glovesman Nic Maddinson who scored a quick 20 were back in the dug-out. From 85 for 1, Sydney team were reduced to 92 for 4 having lost three wickets in a space of 11 deliveries.
Moises Henriques then again steadied the ship with a brisk 27 that had couple of huge sixes but once he was gone, Sydney were 132 for 7. But Cummins and Ben Rohrer ensured that the Australian team cross the finishing line. Earlier, David Wiese's brilliant counter-attacking innings helped Nashua Titans reach a commendable 163 for 5 against Sydney Sixers .
The big-bodied Wiese came in when Titans were tottering at 82 for 5 and then carried out a swift yet brutal assault smashing an unbeaten 61 off only 28 balls. The pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Moises Henriques were left stunned by the Wiese carnage as he completed his 50 off 25 balls and hit five fours and four huge sixes. He changed his gears suddenly after playing 10 balls without a boundary he hit the pull shots and straight over the long-on region with equal ease.
Along with opener Henry Davids who carried his bat through with an impressive 59 not out in 44 balls (3x4, 3x6), they added 81 runs in only 6.3 overs. The last six overs produced a whopping 79 runs after the first 14 fetched them only 84 runs at the expense of five wickets. Aussie pace sensation Cummins bowling figures went for a toss as he gave away 51 runs in his four overs. Henriques and Starc gave away 36 and 33 runs respectively and this happened solely due to Wiese. Opting to bat, veteran batsman Jacques Rudolph slashed one hard from Josh Hazlewood but Michael Lumb stationed in the deep third man took a nice catch running to his left.
Left-arm paceman Starc bowled a short one to Heino Kuhn who misread the length as he tried a pull shot but the ball clipped the off-bail. Skipper Martin van Jaarsveld couldn't check his drive as he lobbed a simple catch to Cummins at cover to give Starc his second wicket.
At 36 for 3, the home team was certainly in trouble but Davids took some calculated risks as he hit a few big hits during his 46-run fourth wicket partenrship with Farhan Behardien to stage a recovery. Once Behardien and Roloef van der Merwe were out in quick succession, Sixers thought of wrapping it up quickly but Wiese had other ideas.