Josh Philippe fires Sydney Sixers to second BBL title in rain-hit encounter

Sydney Sixers 5 for 116 (Philippe 52, Silk 27*) beat Melbourne Stars 6 for 97 (Larkin 38*, Lyon 2-19) by 19 runs

The rain clouds parted in the nick of time and the Sydney Sixers took the Big Bash title without it being handed to them in a washout courtesy of a handsome 19-run victory over the Melbourne Stars in a 12-over contest which meant the Stars’ wait for the crown will enter the tournament’s tenth edition.

After two days of heavy rain gaps in the weather teased for a while on Saturday afternoon before clearing to allow a reduced match, but not the complete lottery of a five-over game that the Sixers had feared. Josh Philippe anchored – if there can be such a term in a shortened hit – the Sixers’ total while there was useful striking from Steven Smith and Jordan Silk either side of the Stars’ spinners putting a hold on the innings.

The key period, however, was the first three overs of the Stars run chase which saw them lose their two big guns – Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell – for a combined total of 15 off eight balls either side of Josh Hazlewood taking 1 for 1 in his first over. Even in the reduced match, the result was clear well before the finish as the Sixers claimed their first BBL title since the inaugural season in 2011-12 and no one will be able to say they didn’t do it properly.

Philippe keeps his cool

Philippe has been very impressive in the latter part of the tournament as he overcame a run of low scores to string together three half-centuries in his last four innings. This one was another very mature display because he did not lose his head under the pressure of the final and also when he wasn’t getting much of the strike. It meant he was still there at the end of the innings, able to deposit Adam Zampa over the deep midwicket boundary to reach his fifty.

Silken finish

After six overs (not the powerplay, that was just three overs) the Sixers were 2 for 60. However, they then entered a period of 26 deliveries between boundaries as the Stars spinners – Zampa and Maxwell – proved difficult to hit. A very pumped-up Maxwell had cut-off Smith’s promising innings when he was caught in the deep for 21 and added Daniel Hughes lbw when the left-hander missed a pull first. Between then, Moises Henriques was beaten by a Zampa delivery that slid on and the Sixers were scoring in ones and twos – acceptable for the middle overs for a full T20, but a problem in a shortened game. Silk had reached 12 off 10 balls when he broke the boundary-less streak with a mow over midwicket and managed 15 off his last five deliveries.

Stars’ top order blown away

Stoinis, the competition’s leading scorer by a distance, clubbed an early four and a six off Nathan Lyon, who was given the first over, and then could not believe it when he picked out deep square leg. He could barely haul himself off the ground. Still, in a short chase, the Stars might have been able to compensate for one of their key figures going early. But it didn’t stop there for them. The horribly out of form Nic Maddinson faced three dot balls against Hazlewood before lobbing a slower delivery to cover but the worst blow came next when Maxwell was given lbw sweeping at Steve O’Keefe. When Peter Handscomb was run out in a horrible mix-up, as he jogged a single but Nick Larkin wanted two, you just knew this was going to be added to the list of nights where it went wrong for the Stars.

Sixers wrap it up

The back of the Stars’ batting was well and truly broken and it would have taken something miraculous to turn the chase around. When O’Keefe bowled the final ball of the fifth over to Larkin it meant a completed match. The Sixers just had to avoid any slip-ups. Ben Dunk, who had been brought into the side for Clint Hinchliffe when the match was reduced, managed one six before being lbw to Lyon. After all the talk that the weather would cause the damp squib it was the Stars’ limp batting that made for a subdued finish despite a late flurry from Larkin and Nathan Coulter-Nile – the latter suggesting he could have been used earlier. Not that anyone in magenta – or the majority of the 10,121 crowd that had ignored the weather forecast – was worrying about such things.