BBL: Sydney Sixers survive, Asif Ali’s blitz 41(13) in Big Bash 2023, Match 11

The Sydney Sixers held off a late attack from Asif Ali to defeat the Hobart Hurricanes on a sluggish SCG surface and claim their first BBL win of the season. Rain delayed the start of the match by an hour and restricted it to 14 overs for each side. Some questioned Sixers captain Moises Henriques’ decision to bat, but it proved to be a masterstroke. Sixers bowlers delighted returning to their favorite SCG to stifle Hurricanes, who were never really in it until Asif’s incredible 41 off 13 balls nearly grabbed a dramatic late win.

Asif almost performs a miracle

BBL Sydney Sixers survive, Asif Ali's blitz 41(13) in Big Bash 2023, Match 1-3

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Hurricanes were dead and buried, requiring 45 Delivery in 10 days, but Asif had different plans. He then smashed 22 runs off Hayden Kerr’s next four deliveries, the last of which was a six off a full toss at waist height that should have been termed a no-ball. With 23 needed off the last over, the Hurricanes’ prospects improved significantly when fast Naveen-ul-Haq produced a wide on the first ball and was then hammered for a boundary by a red-hot Asif. Sixers players were expressionless as startled supporters sensed a catastrophic implosion. But Asif holed out on the following delivery, effectively ending the Hurricanes’ prospects.

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O’Keefe likes the sluggish surface

Steve O’Keefe, a left-arm spinner, turned 38 earlier this month, but he hasn’t lost his knack to confound hitters. O’Keefe was a critical selection on an increasingly sluggish surface, having been sidelined against the Scorchers at the pace-friendly Optus Stadium. O’Keefe’s deft bowling put the brakes on the Hurricanes’ high-octane top-order hitters. He took the important wicket of Ben McDermott in the fourth over and then returned in the eighth over. The Hurricanes’ run rate had risen to 12 per over as skipper Matthew Wade prepared to step up. But he couldn’t get past O’Keefe, who delivered nine dot balls in his first 11 deliveries. Wade holed out to spinner Todd Murphy in the following over, then stomped his bat as he marched off in anger.

Also Read: Hobart Hurricanes beat Perth Scorcher by 8 runs in Big Bash 2023, Match 8

The Sixers’ hitting lineup is a mixed bag

BBL Sydney Sixers survive, Asif Ali's blitz 41(13) in Big Bash 2023, Match 1-2

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Sixers were eager to atone for poor batting performances in defeats to the Strikers and Scorchers. After a shaky batting performance against the Hurricanes, the Sixers still haven’t had a batter make a half-century this season, despite reaching a competitive total thanks to good bookends. Josh Philippe and Kurtis Patterson combined for a 68-run first inning to get the Sixers off to a fast start. Patterson, who has a Test average of 144 from two appearances, was a surprise for the Scorchers last season as an aggressive opener. Patterson made his first impact this season after coming home to Sydney, scoring a 25-ball 38 to create a solid foundation with Philippe. However, their fine work was undone by a 5 for 16 collapses before Kerr scored an important 32 from 20 balls at the death. Kerr, who scored 42 against the Scorchers, continues to make a strong case for promotion.

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Shadab makes apologies after failing to pick up a babysitter

BBL Sydney Sixers survive, Asif Ali's blitz 41(13) in Big Bash 2023, Match 1-1

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The Hurricanes were battered early on, with Wade using five different bowlers in five overs in a frantic attempt to find a breakthrough. Their early difficulties were symbolized when spinner Shadab Khan lost the easiest of return catches to save Philippe in the fifth over. The damp ball may have provided an explanation for his blunder with the skier, but Shadab was eager to make apologies. Shadab returned in the eighth over and removed Philippe with a slow and wide ball that was smashed straight to long-off.

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Shadab bowled bravely, and he was on a roll when he dismissed Henriques’s first ball with a magnificent diving return catch. It was similar to his catch and bowled dismissal of Scorchers allrounder Aaron Hardie earlier in the week. Shadab’s efforts caused a Sixers collapse with left-arm spinner Paddy Dooley, whose unconventional bowling motion has caught the attention of many, continuing his breakthrough season with the wickets of Jordan Silk and Dan Christian.

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