Hayden Kerr hit an unbeaten 98 as the Sydney Sixers beat the Adelaide Strikers to reach the BBL final
Hayden Kerr scored a blistering 98 not out from 58 balls as Sydney Sixers booked their place in the Big Bash League final with a thrilling and controversial four-wicket win over Adelaide Strikers in the Challenger.
Set 168 to win, the Sixers needed to go at more than 11 an over for the last five overs of their chase and even after a match-altering 55-run stand between Kerr and Sean Abbott (41 from 20 balls), they required 12 runs from the last at the SCG.
They proceeded to lose wickets from the next two balls with Jordan Silk sent in at No 8 despite being burdened by a hamstring injury, he got off strike with a single before Kerr thumped the next ball for six and the easy two that followed left the Sixers needing two to win from the last delivery.
It was at that stage that the Sixers, much to the Strikers’ displeasure, called for Silk to retire hurt to allow them a healthy runner at the non-striker’s end. No rules were broken but it could be argued that it went against the spirit of the game.
Ultimately, it proved somewhat incidental as Kerr whipped the last ball through midwicket for four, after a fumble in the deep, to send the Sixers into the final where they will meet Perth Scorchers on Friday.
There was last-ball controversy after the Sixers exploited a rule loophole that allowed them to sub out an injured batter. But was it in the spirit of the game?
The drama for the Sydney franchise started before the game even began with opener Josh Philippe ruled out late on after testing positive for Covid-19, while, with only 12 players available and a second attempt to get Steve Smith back into the side blocked by the BBL, assistant coach Jay Lenton was drafted in to keep wicket nearly two years on from his last competitive game.
Having cobbled together an XI, the Sixers won the toss and asked Adelaide to bat first. Veteran spinner Steve O’Keefe (1-21) removed Alex Carey (1) in the first over and Abbott then got rid of Matthew Short (6) and Travis Head (3) inside the powerplay to leave the Strikers 21-3.
Englishman Ian Cockbain (48 from 42) and Jonathan Wells (62no from 47) rescued the innings with a stand of 83 before the latter added an unbroken 63 with Matt Renshaw (36no from 20) to take the Strikers up to 167-4.
All-rounder Kerr was promoted to open in Philippe’s absence and was the driving force through the first three-quarters of the innings as the rest of the top order struggled to get going.
Abbott came in at No 6 with the Sixers needing 67 from 35 balls and, with Kerr showing signs of tiredness, took on the mantle as he smashed two fours and two sixes to keep his side in the game.
He was dismissed from the first ball of the last over by Harry Conway (2-37), Ben Dwarshuis was then run out without facing a ball as he came back for a second to keep Kerr on strike.
Kerr held his nerve with 10 needed from three balls, heaving a six over cow corner before managing to ignore the controversy that proceeded the last delivery to hit the winning runs and spark wild celebrations in front of a jubilant home crows.
Watch the Big Bash League final between Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers from 7.30am, Friday on Sky Sports Cricket.