Sixers beat Stars to claim BBL semi berth

Jan 21, 2017 - 2:59 PM The Sydney Sixers have claimed a last-gasp semi-final berth, defeating the Melbourne Stars by three wickets in the last match of the BBL regular season.

The Sixers were fifth on the ladder before Saturday night's pivotal clash at the MCG, but chased down a modest target of 157 runs with one over to spare to leap into third spot.

The loss cost the Stars a home final. With the result, cross-town rivals the Renegades, who were in fourth place, were also knocked out of finals contention.

In the semi-finals, the Sixers will face the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba and the Stars will take on the Perth Scorchers at the WACA.

The Sixers were in deep trouble at 6-97 after 14.1 overs but Sean Abbott - not out 33 from 17 balls - and Johan Botha (25 off 13) turned the game, belting 27 runs in two overs, and sharing a match-winning 59-run partnership.

The Sixers did well to restrict the home side to 8-156 from their 20 overs after skipper Moises Henriques won the toss and elected to bowl first.

Openers Luke Wright and Rob Quiney had the Stars off to a flyer, but Quiney's departure (35 from 19 balls) signalled a swing in momentum.

The Stars were 1-59 after six overs, but Nathan Lyon bowled superbly through the middle of the innings to help apply the brakes, finishing with figures of 2-18.

Ben Dwarshuis was also important for the Sixers with figures of 3-25.

Wright and Kevin Pietersen shared a key 71-run partnership but, when Wright was bowled for 62 from 47 balls, the Stars fell in a heap.

Evan Gulbis, Seb Gotch - brilliantly caught by a diving Brad Haddin - and skipper David Hussey all departed cheaply just as the Stars needed to accelerate.

Pietersen made 39 from 36 deliveries but never looked comfortable at the crease and was caught in the deep with the score on 150 with one over remaining.

"I think the scoreboard left me no choice," said man-of-the-match Abbott, who attacked the Stars' bowlers from the outset.

"We didn't speak about (the semis) going into the game, but I knew (what was on the line) going out to bat ... there was a bit more incentive to dig in."

A healthy crowd of 46,671 fans turned out to see the Stars claim their sixth semi-final appearance in succession.

Hussey was disappointed to have fallen to fourth spot having let the opportunity to play a semi-final at the MCG slip.

"First and foremost our plan was to win tonight and then play a home final against the Renegades," Hussey said.

"We've got to revisit that (performance) pretty quickly and reset our plans ... re-calibrate and get the confidence back up in the guys that they can execute under pressure."

Source: AAP

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