A four-wicket haul from West Indian quick Carlos Brathwaite and stunning hitting from Dan Christian has led the Sydney Sixers back to the top of the Big Bash League ladder with a thrilling three-wicket victory over the Brisbane Heat.
With scores tied ahead of the final ball of the match, Christian (61 off 38) smashed a four to end the Heat’s three-match winning streak.
After bowling the Heat out for 148 from the final ball of the innings at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, the Sixers slumped to 4-54 before Christian joined captain Dan Hughes (51 off 35) at the crease.
The pair made a measured chase until exploding in the power surge, making 37 from the 15th and 16th overs, with Christian belting three sixes and a four to seemingly take the game away from the Heat.
But Brisbane hit back, taking 3-7 in 13 balls, with the Sixers needing 11 from the final over to win.
Christian belted a six from the first ball of the over before being dropped in the deep by Jack Wildermuth and narrowly avoiding a run out as he pushed for two to level the scores before hitting the winning runs from the final ball.
Earlier, the Heat lost two wickets in the opening power play and slumped to 3-43 when Joe Burns (7 from 12) became the first of Carlos Brathwaite’s four victims.
Chris Lynn (56 from 44) and Jimmy Peirson (16 off 18) steadied the ship with a 51-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Peirson fell to a juggling catch from Jackson Bird.
Lynn made the slowest half-century of his BBL career after being given two early lives but it was not enough to ignite the Heat, with Brisbane eventually bowled out for 148.
BRATHWAITE BACK IN BUSINESS
West Indian quick Carlos Brathwaite equalled his career-best T20 bowling, taking four wickets in a match-turning spell.
Brathwaite had three two-wicket spells for the Sixers earlier this season but had managed just one scalp in his past three games before Sunday’s revival.
While Mark Steketee got a poor decision to be given caught behind, his efforts to pick up Joe Burns, James Bazley and Chris Lynn put the Sixers in the box seat.
VETERAN PERFORMANCE FROM BIRD
Former Test quick Jackson Bird turned back the clock to notch his best showing of the Big Bash, taking 2-22 from his four overs in a tone-setting spell.
While Carlos Brathwaite (four) and Jake Ball Bird (three) took more wickets, Bird’s ability to get the new ball to move, was pivotal, with the wickets of Max Bryant (10 off 8) and Joe Denly (7 off 7) key to restricting the Heat.
His figures could have been even better had Dan Christian not dropped Chris Lynn with the opener on just six in the fourth over but given he too dropped Lynn — off the bowling of Christian — he could not bear a grudge and he redeemed himself when he took a juggled chance between his legs to dismiss Jimmy Peirson (16 off 18).
MUJEEB A MASSIVE LOSS
Spin magician Mujeeb Ur Rahman may have played his final game for the Heat given his selection in the Afghanistan team to play a three-game ODI series against Ireland in the UAE.
Mujeeb took 2-16 from his four overs, picking up James Vince (15 from 10) from the second ball of his spell before bowling the dangerous Jordan Silk for three as Heat captain Chris Lynn decided to bowl him through in a bid to lock down the Sixers.
The wickets took Mujeeb’s tally for the BBL to 12 and while the Heat may get another game out of the prodigious teen before he departs for the UAE, his loss will be a massive blow to their campaign — as will those of fellow Afghanistan players Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers) and Mohammad Nabi (Melbourne Renegades) for their teams.