Unlikely batting hero saves Sixers after Rashid hat-trick
Rashid Khan nearly pulled off the impossible with his Adelaide Oval hat-trick but it was the Sixers who walked away with the points
Louis Cameron at Adelaide Oval
8 January 2020, 05:42 PM AEST
The match in a tweet: Birthday boy Hazlewood seals game with three boundaries from his first three balls, cancelling out Rashid Khan's incredible hat-trick #BBL09
The score: Adelaide Strikers 135 (Weatherald 47, Curran 4-22) lost to Sydney Sixers 8-137 (Vince 27, Hazlewood 12no, Rashid 4-22) by two wickets with eight balls to spare
On his 29th birthday, Josh Hazlewood remarkably iced the game with three consecutive boundaries from the only three deliveries he faced.
Needing 12 to win from the final two overs, Hazlewood hit Peter Siddle to (and almost over) the third-man rope before following it with two more fours to seal a remarkably topsy-turvy game for his side.
It followed a solid bowling outing (1-19 from four overs) in his final game before he joins Australia's ODI squad heading to India.
There has surely never been a more exciting Big Bash bowler than Rashid Khan, whose abnormally large fingers and sense for a big moment looked - momentarily at least - to have turned a certain Sixers victory into a comeback from nowhere.
With the Strikers defending only 135, the visitors looked on track to record a comfortable win even when Rashid removed stand-in captain Daniel Hughes to leave the Sixers 3-51.
The required run rate was nudging six an over but that changed in a flash when Rashid took an exhilarating hat-trick in the space of his final two overs.
Alex Carey took a sharp catch after James Vince (27) edged behind, before Jack Edwards was lbw (for a golden duck) to a wrong'un on the final ball of his penultimate over.
The leg-spinner saved his best for last; the ever-reliable Jordan Silk, facing up the first ball of Rashid's last over, was completely undone by another wrong'un, having his stumps rattled as the Afghan set off in jubilant celebrations.
It’s the first hat-trick of the season, Rashid's third – he took one in the Caribbean Premier League as well as four wickets in four balls in a T20 against Ireland last year – and just the fifth overall in men's Big Bash history.
While Rashid's hat-trick temporarily threw the game wide open, the match was effectively decided in a chaotic finish to the first innings in which the Strikers lost 7-25 from their final 34 deliveries in a mad flurry that silenced the Adelaide Oval faithful.
At 3-110 with six overs to go and their best two finishers in Alex Carey and Jon Wells at the crease, the hosts looked set for a 160-plus total.
But it was leg-spinner Lloyd Pope, who had previously endured a tough afternoon in conceding 30 from his first three overs, who sparked the remarkable procession.
Wells holed out trying to clear the short side of the ground before Michael Neser was lbw aiming for the same leg-side boundary to give the leg-spinner two wickets (for just three runs) in his final over.
The Strikers sunk to be all out for 135 in the final over, a tally which never appeared competitive on a flat surface.
The support cast
Player-of-the-match Tom Curran grabbed the lion's share of the spoils with 4-22 from his 3.4 overs but Hazlewood (1-19 off four overs) and Ben Dwarshuis (2-20 off four) were equally impressive.
Hazlewood hardly had to adjust the lines and lengths he has bowled during Australia's recent Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand before injury sidelined him, replicating his metronomical accuracy in four one-over spells.
One-time Australia T20 squad member Dwarshuis' excellent BBL campaign continued, snagging the scalps of Matt Short and then key man Alex Carey to take his tournament wicket tally to 10, while his economy rate sits at an impressive 6.99.
Curran, meanwhile, underlined his status as one of the competition's premier allrounders with career-best T20 figures and with 13 victims for the tournament, he sits one wicket short of BKT Golden Cap wearer Daniel Sams.
We are big, big fans of Harry Conway commentating the action as it unfolds #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/sY5hxduXkZ— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 8, 2020
Harry Conway took one wicket and made just six runs but it was an eventful game of the ever-entertaining fast bowler.
While he is yet to cement his place in the Adelaide side, viewers will surely be hoping the fast bowler can do so if only to ensure his batting antics are not lost to the competition.
His six-run, eight-ball knock was coloured by a loud "yeah, well bowled," to NSW teammate Dwarshuis, a death stare for Billy Stanlake when his fellow tailender turned down a single that should have seen Conway run out and a bizarre jig after keeping out a Curran yorker.
But he celebrated accordingly when he returned the favour to Curran, clean bowling the English allrounder to keep the Strikers in the hunt.
Keep doing you, Harry!
The next stop
The Sixers' sixth victory shoots them to the top of the BBL standings, though they could be overtaken in a matter of hours if the Melbourne Stars win at the MCG in the second match of Wednesday's double header.
Assuming those two side hold their spots, it will set up an intriguing top-of-the-table clash between the Sixers and the Stars on Sunday at the 'G.
Test batter Travis Head will be a welcome addition to captain the Strikers in their next game against the winless Melbourne Renegades at home on Sunday.
Adelaide remain one of five teams with three wins for the season.