Sean Abbott has suggested there could be more worries in the rematch between Sydney’s two BBL teams, following the fiery encounter between the Sixers and Thunder.
The Sixers’ seven-wicket win at the Sydney Showground Stadium on Sunday lifted the magenta men into first place above Perth and dropped their defeated local rivals one place to fourth.
The Thunder and Sixers will face off in their second Sydney Smash of the season on Saturday at SCG.
Sixers pacemaker Abbott, who was the player of the game with a magnificent 3-9 effort from his four overs, said there were problems between the two teams in front of a crowd of nearly 21,000. .
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He suggested this was partly due to the Sixers not starting the Thunder’s final innings in time and therefore losing a defender outside the circle.
“Maybe some of their boys are trying to make sure our innings go a little late, so we play with four (out of the circle) at the end, and a couple other things,” Abbott told Fox Cricket.
“There were a bit of worries tonight as well, so it sets up for an interesting home game at SCG for the second round against them.
“We will see how the next game goes. I’m sure there will be a few more.
Both Sydney sides have an upcoming home game against second-placed Perth Scorchers, who are just one point behind the Sixers with two games less.
The Sixers and Thunder will each look different for their games against the Scorchers, having lost key players to the ILT20 and picked up some stars from the Australian Test squad.
Sixers’ James Vince and Chris Jordan and Thunder’s Alex Hales all played their final BBL game of the season last night.
Their departures will be offset by the return of Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon to the Sixers and the long-awaited return of David Warner to the Thunder.
Abbott acknowledged the importance to the Sixers of getting Smith and Lyon back, but said they would miss their England imports initially.
“I think ‘Moey’ (Sixers captain Moises Henriques) mentioned that Smithy is an absolute pest in the group chat, so even if he’s not there physically, he’s definitely there on the team chat. group to help us,” Abbott said.
“But we’re missing two classy players in CJ (Jordan) and Vincey, not just for what they bring to the park, they’ve obviously performed quite well.”
The Sixers fell to 3-25 after four overs, but mid-order pivots Silk and Henriques took control with an unbroken fourth wicket of 109 from 75.
Silk (59 of 42) and Henriques (53 of 38) showed their experience, working the ball into the gaps for singles and hitting the occasional limit when Thunder bowlers got it wrong. It was Silk’s first BBL 50 of the season and Henriques’ biggest scoring in this season’s campaign.
The Thunder crashed to 3-12 with three lbw decisions in the first three overs, as Alex Hales fell for a golden duck.
A fourth-wicket stand of 64 between Alex Ross (34 from 34) and Sam Whiteman (42 from 34) in his first BBL game of the season, kicked off the Thunder’s innings.
The Sixers regained the initiative taking it 3-17 but a few strong last innings from Ben Cutting (26 on 15 balls) increased the Thunder’s total.
Abbott (3-9 on four overs) threw 17 run balls and took his haul for the season to 16, second highest with Scorchers AJ Tye and Henry Thornton of the Strikers.
“There was a bit of a green tint on the wicket,” Abbott said. “When your captain gives you the hard ball you have to go and there’s no more incentive to go out there and perform well and give it your all and set the tone so it was good tonight .”
The Thunder needed quick wickets and, like the Sixers, struck three times on the power play, with captain and spinner Chris Green (2-29 from four) and point guards Brendan Doggett (1-23 from four) doing the damage.
Silk and Henriques controlled the game from that point on. “These guys turn the zeros into ones, and the twos into threes and seem to find every space in these pockets that are pretty big here,” Abbott said of Silk and Henriques.
Elgar shy about form collapse
South African skipper Dean Elgar was cautious about his terrible comeback from 56 runs to a dismal 9.33 in the 2-0 loss to Australia after the third Test draw in Sydney.
The veteran fly-half was out four times with a short ball to the side of the leg.
“I can accept once, maybe twice, but the third time is something that irritates me a lot,” Elgar said. “It’s something different for me. Usually you have a way out and bowlers are targeting that. It’s obviously something new and 10 years into a Test career is foreign territory for me.
“It’s something to think about potentially and you can say it’s luck or not. I’ll have an open mind and take a look.
He claimed there were ‘other aspects’ behind his crisis, but declined to divulge what they were.
“You don’t have to know,” he said. “It’s just pure cricket.”
Selection dilemma for Babar ahead of New Zealand ODIs
Pakistan captain Babar Azam is unsure whether newly appointed assistant Shan Masood will enter the starting XI for the one-day international series against New Zealand.
“We can’t talk about any individual at the moment, whether they’re vice-captains or X, Y, Z,” Babar said on Sunday on the eve of the opener. “We will try to field our best playing XI and try to win the series.”
Left-handed striker Masood, 33, was named vice-captain in place of Mohammad Rizwan, the 16-man side’s only wicketkeeper for all three ODIs. But Masood hasn’t played an ODI since 2019, when his five games were against Australia in the United Arab Emirates. He scored 111 carries at an average of 22.20.
The interim selection committee, led by Shahid Afridi, also recalled Haris Sohail, another left-handed hitter. He has 1685 runs in 42 ODIs, but hasn’t played since October 2020 against Zimbabwe. Two uncapped middle-order batsmen, Tayyab Tahir and Kamran Ghulam, were chosen after prolific scores on the national circuit.
“We know we can build on our momentum in white-ball cricket because we have regained our strength in bowling,” Babar said.
Haris Rauf has recovered from a quadriceps injury picked up in his first Test against England last month to join fellow fast bowlers Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim, Shahnawaz Dahani and Mohammad Hasnain in the squad.
Monday’s ODI – all three are in Karachi – will be the first between Pakistan and New Zealand since the 2019 World Cup in England.
Kane Williamson, who stepped down as New Zealand Test captain ahead of the Pakistan tour, will return to lead the ODI squad. He will then hand over the captaincy to Tom Latham for the ODI series in India.
Fast bowler Adam Milne was dropped from the series due to concerns over his preparation, and Blair Tickner, who was part of the New Zealand test squad, was retained. New Zealand has flown in three white-ball specialists – lead-off hitter Finn Allen, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner.