David Warner’s Sydney Thunder solo mission has proved in vain, as the Sixers booked their spot in the Big Bash League finals win a 19-run win at the SCG.
Fresh off arriving at the ground by helicopter from his brother’s wedding, Warner won his personal battle with long-time Test teammate Steve Smith but still tasted defeat in front of 41,027 fans on Friday night.
Chasing 152 for victory, the retired Test opener hit 37 from 39 balls on a slow SCG wicket but had no support as the Thunder were all out for 132 in the final over.
While Warner was the retiring hero at the SCG last week, veteran Sixers spinner Steve O’Keefe took 3-13 before confirming he would retire at season’s end.
The result officially ends the Thunder’s slim finals hopes, and locks the Sixers in for another post-season appearance.
A win in Perth on Tuesday night will allow the Sixers to finish runner-up on the ladder and earn a second chance, otherwise a home elimination final awaits.
The Sixers win came despite Smith being caught on the first ball of the game, in his final appearance for the club this summer.
A century-maker in the same fixture last year, Smith hooked a short Daniel Sams ball straight to Nathan McAndrew at deep-backward square.
In Smith’s absence, his young lookalike Josh Philippe took charge of the Sixers’ innings with a well-timed 47 from 35 balls.
Philippe scooped Sams for four late in the first over and played well square of the wicket.
Jordan Silk struck 35 to help the Sixers to 7-151, as the Thunder’s spinners dominated and Tanveer Sangha took 2-22 from his four overs.
In reply, the Thunder looked on track early when Warner and Alex Hales took 44 runs from the opening four-over powerplay.
Warner pulled Sean Abbott for a six and drove Jack Edwards for another as he went aerial early, to be 15 from six balls at one stage.
But when Hales was bowled by O’Keefe for 28, the air went out of the Thunder’s innings.
Cameron Bancroft’s rough week continued when he was beaten in flight and bowled for two by O’Keefe, while Warner’s last 22 runs took 33 balls.
And while the veteran opener batted through to the 17th over, he was eventually the seventh man out when caught in the deep by O’Keefe.
“The way that Thunder started, I thought it was gonna be one of those nights,” O’Keefe said.
“Davey turns up in the chopper and steals the show. But we picked it back nicely and it was a good result.”
It summed up the Thunder’s night, as their season’s hopes ended with a final 16 overs at the SCG where they scored 10-88.
“We’ve got to learn to be better in those moments,” captain Chris Green said.
“David Warner showed that ability tonight.
“He got off to a flyer and then he sat back and just waited for someone to build a partnership with him.
“And unfortunately for us, there was no-one willing to do a little bit of the dirty work.”