A sensational innings by Sydney Sixers’ batsman Daniel Hughes has guided his team to a thrilling Boxing Day Big Bash win over the Melbourne Stars.
- The Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars combined for 26 sixes in a high-scoring thriller at Carrara, with the Sixers winning by a single wicket
- The Sixers made 20 off the final over to win, capped with four byes off the penultimate ball
- In the other game, the Sydney Thunder beat the Melbourne Renegades by 129 runs, with Thunder batsman Oliver Davies smashing five consecutive sixes
Hughes stunned the Stars, smashing 96 off just 51 deliveries as the Sixers chased a victory target of 194 with a ball and a wicket to spare at Carrara.
The Stars would have felt safe after Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran combined to smash 125 runs for the fifth wicket, featuring 13 sixes, as the Stars made 5-193 in their innings.
West Indian left-hander Pooran, batting for the first time this summer for the Stars, smashed 65 off just 26 balls to delight the small crowd on the Gold Coast.
Maxwell finished the innings with his fifth six to end on 71 not out off 47 balls in a typically destructive display from the Australian all-rounder.
That partnership looked a match-winner as the Sixers struggled to keep wickets in hand but Hughes’s knock, which included six fours and seven sixes, delivered them an unlikely win.
The Sixers’ hopes appeared shot when Maxwell caught big-hitting West Indian Carlos Brathwaite (21 off 12) on the boundary in the penultimate over.
That meant Sydney had to score 20 runs off the final over with just two wickets in hand but Hughes made the most of Nathan Coulter-Nile being off the field with a calf injury, leaving Maxwell to bowl the final over.
Hughes belted a six, a four and a six before holing out but four leg-byes off the penultimate ball to Steve O’Keefe then sealed the win for the Sixers.
“I did something like that in a trial game so I actually didn’t know I had that in me until DC [Dan Christian] and there’s a few other guys that have just given me the confidence in the middle order to just go out there and play shots,” the 31-year-old said.
“Swing easy. Be calm when you need to be and it came off today.
“Now that I know that it’s there, it’s just trying to repeat it over and over again.”
All up, there were 26 sixes hit in the match, providing plenty of entertainment for a game that finished at midnight local time.
Stars coach David Hussey said Coulter-Nile had suffered a calf strain and, despite putting his hand up to bowl the final over, was talked out of it for fear he would make his injury worse.
“20 to win, yeah you’d like to think so,” Hussey said when asked if it would have been a different outcome with Coulter-Nile available for the last over.
“He’s one of the world’s best T20 players … but the way Daniel Hughes was hitting them, like anything could have happened.
“I honestly believed we were still going to pinch the game when Cartwright took his catch and I thought, ‘right, yeah, we’re going to win this,’ but it wasn’t to be.”
The Sixers next play the Melbourne Renegades at Carrara on Tuesday while the Stars travel to Canberra on the same day to play the Sydney Thunder.
Davies hits Renegades for six in Canberra
In the earlier game, young gun Oliver Davies hit the headlines with five straight sixes, as the Thunder beat the struggling Renegades by 129 runs in Canberra.
Davies caught the eye in the under-19 championships two years ago when he scored a double hundred for NSW against the Northern Territory, hitting 17 sixes including six off a single over.
He had an impressive Big Bash debut with 36 off 21 balls for the Thunder against the Perth Scorchers, then backed it up with 48 off 23 balls at Manuka Oval on Saturday night.
He was going at a run a ball before facing Afghanistan spinner Mohammad Nabi — Davies smashed four sixes in a row, including three over mid-wicket, then deposited Will Sutherland into the stand square on the leg side from the next ball he faced.
Sutherland bounced back by bowling the 20-year-old off the next delivery, but Davies’ quickfire innings helped the Thunder to 8-209 from 20 overs, before the Renegades were blasted out for just 80 off 12.2 overs.
The Renegades, who are the defending Big Bash champions, had the worst loss in the competition’s history earlier this month when they were thrashed by 145 runs by the Sydney Sixers.