After four demoralising and soul-searching years, the Sydney Thunder have done everything they can to secure themselves a finals spot with a 46-run victory in front of a record NSW crowd at the SCG.
Andre Russell's extraordinary shot in the Sydney Smash
Sydney Thunder all-rounder Andre Russell produces one of the most amazing shots seen at the SCG in recent years, as he smashes Doug Bollinger to the boundary without even watching the ball.
Mike Hussey left the SCG for the last time in front of 38,456 onlookers after earlier grinding out a clever 41 from 29 balls, but he was more than happy to play second fiddle to Shane Watson (66 from 41) and Andre Russell (46 from 20) who showed that experience can be bought as the Thunder powered to 5-202 – the highest score in BBL05.
Nic Maddinson's fighting 70 from 40 balls – he almost scored more runs on Saturday than he has in the entire tournament – put the Sixers ahead of the required run rate, but sadly for them, there were no Jordan Silk heroics like last season or Michael Lumb fireworks.
Off-spinner Chris Green stole the show with 3-27 for the men in lime as the Sixers were bowled out for 156 in the 18th over.
There is the potential, however, if both the Stars and Renegades win their final matches, the Thunder's aspirations of making the final four could evaporate before their eyes, meaning they have a nervous wait following their second victory over their cross-town rivals this season.
Mike Hussey, who depending on results could have played in his final ever match in Australia, said the 200-plus total has sent a message to rest of the competition should they qualify.
" We turned up tonight without two of our best players and we put on a great show and a great performance," Hussey said. "It's a special win to beat the Sixers here at the SCG in front of such a fabulous crowd."
Asked whether he was nostalgic trudging off the SCG - the venue where he also retired from Test cricket - Hussey said: " I must admit I did take a little moment to have a look around and think it will be the last time I walk off here. It is a very special place. It's one of my favourite grounds in the whole world so I will certainly miss playing at this place for sure."
It was remarkable to think the two teams – who between them have won none of their last eight games – were still even in with a chance of sneaking into the finals.
The Sixers were 2-50 from five and passed 100 in the ninth over, but once Maddinson and Haddin departed, the inflated run rate prompted players to take more risks than they normally would have.
With no Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson was promoted to the top of the order with Aidan Blizzard. He cut and drove with aplomb, while Blizzard sweated on anything short, dispatching Johan Botha over the deep square leg fence to continue a rollicking pace.
The pair added 48 in the power play when before Sean Abbott struck with his first delivery, as Blizzard (20 from 17) gifted Brad Haddin the simplest of catches.
Watson passed his fifty from 34 balls with a towering six towards the Member's pavilion.
He then set his sights on Lyon, whose first two overs yielded a respectable 13 runs, testing those hamstrings of his by getting down on one knee and slapping the Australian tweaker behind square for consecutive fours.
Watson went for one too many as he was caught in the deep by Jackson Bird, but the damage was done as a healthy platform set for a juicy total.
0/29 from three overs doesn't make for pleasant reading, but the best players back their skills, so when Lyon removed New Zealand import Henry Nicholls for three, caught at backward point, he offered a wry smile.
Andre Russell appeared to pull a hamstring early in his knock, hence the flat-batted, crowd-killing sixes that followed. However, he was able to motor between the wickets thereafter on his way to making a valuable 46.
The Sixers' fielding was well below the high standard they set themselves and they repeatedly let the Thunder off the hook, ending a disappointing campaign for them which resulted in just two wins from eight attempts - their worst effort in five years.