Sydney Sixers win Champions League Twenty20 final by 10 wickets
- Christian Nicolussi in Johannesburg
- The Daily Telegraph
Sydney Sixers squad celebrate their win over the Highveld Lions in the Champions League T20 final at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Picture: Stephane De Sakutin Source: AFP
ENGLISHMAN Michael Lumb has blasted an unbeaten 82 to lead the Sydney Sixers to a powerhouse 10-wicket victory in the Champions League Twenty20 final.
The Sixers are the world’s best Twenty20 franchise – not to mention $2.5 million richer – after they stunned hometown heroes Highveld at the Wanderers.
Needing 122 for victory after paceman Josh Hazlewood and spinner Nathan McCullum took three wickets each, the Sixers did not muck about with Lumb and skipper Brad Haddin reaching the mark in the 13th over.
Man-of-the-match Lumb was dropped on 17, and made sure he punished the Lions for the blunder, crunching eight boundaries and five sixes in a knock that eventually turned the game into a mis-match.
And when Haddin was dropped the following over by Dwaine Pretorious at deep square leg, the skipper said the Lions were never going to bounce back.
“I think the Lions were gone then,” Haddin said.
Sydney Sixers captain Brad Haddin celebrates the Champions League T20 final win over Highveld Lions at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Picture: Stephane De Sakutin Source: AFP
“I think the way we played and the pressure we built through the game, they cracked.
“That’s what it’s about. I said to the guys before the game that there will be some big moments in this game, and if we do the simple things right, they’ll crack before us, and they did.”
The Sixers started the final against Highveld red-hot favourites after they had won all six games in South Africa in the past fortnight, including Saturday’s final-ball semi-final thriller over the Titans.
It was their 12th straight win in all competitions with their last loss coming 300 days ago against the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.
The men in magenta will now return home to Australia tomorrow afternoon (AEDT) with several of their stars, including Mitchell Starc, Moises Henriques and Steve Smith, sure to be brimming with confidence with Test and Australia A duties awaiting.
Sixers quick Josh Hazlewood celebrates the scalp of Highveld’s Neil McKenzie for a duck. Source: AP
Earlier, Hazlewood and McCullum collected three wickets each to put the Sixers in the box seat.
Hazlewood finished with 3-22 while unheralded spinner McCullum’s 3-24 ensured the Lions wouldn’t do too much damage with the bat.
Silence fell across the Wanderers when the home side lost four wickets in the first four overs.
Haddin won the toss and elected to field, and surprisingly threw the ball to Kiwi McCullum.
But the moved proved a masterstroke as world No. 4-ranked Twenty20 bowler McCullum had Gulam Bodi (3) caught at deepsquare leg with his third delivery.
Asked to explain his decision to go with two spinners for the first two overs, rather than his young quicks, Haddin said: “I made the decision to give (Steve) O’Keefe his over in the fourth ball of the first, but I was always going to open with McCullum. If you look through the tournaments, the Lions would have been thinking about our fast bowlers a lot leading into this game.
“I don’t think they would have been thinking much about our spinners. I went with my gut on that one, and tonight it came off.
Sydney Sixers celebrate their Champions League T20 final win over the Highveld Lions in Johannesburg. Picture: Stephane De Sakutin Source: AFP
“I thouht they both (McCullum and O’Keefe) did an outstanding job. I thought the Lions were surprised we did that. It allowed us to hold our quicks back and bowl our best bowlers in the last 10 overs, where traditionally the Lions are a good cricket team. Today everything worked for us . . . but that performance tonight was no fluke.”
Hazlewood, who has been brilliant the past fortnight at the lucrative tournament, produced an excellent double-wicket maiden to remove Quinton de Kock (1) and danger man Neil McKenzie (0).
And when O’Keefe had Test opener Alviro Petersen (1) caught in the slips by McCullum, the Lions were 4-9.
The huge crowd kept themselves entertained by cheering every time one of their players’ managed to get bat on ball.
Lions pair Jean Symes and Thami Tsolekile offered some middle-order resistance, combining for 44 runs before McCullum, the world’s No 4 Twenty20 bowler, sent Tsolekile (20 off 19) on his way.
Not to be outdone, Hazlewood should have had Symes caught on 49, only for Ben Rohrer to grass the bullet-like chance. But Rohrer made up for the blunder when his direct hit caught Pretorius (21 off 13) well short of his crease.
Then Hazlewood got Symes (51) to sky the ball straight into the air for Haddin to take a simple catch.
Had it not been for Symes’ gritty effort in the middle, the Lions could have struggled to reach triple figures.
Lethal quicks Mitchell Starc (1-36) and Pat Cummins (0-27 off four) have caused plenty of headaches for batsmen in South Africa, but were no match for Hazlewood and McCullum.
Lumb and Haddin started conservatively, and needed to wait until the fourth over to score their first boundary.
But the pair then upped the ante, and after they were dropped, powered on for a deserved win and no doubt deserved drink.