ALL good things must come to an end, and so it is with the remarkable run of the Sydney Sixers. After a dozen wins in succession, both in the Twenty20 Big Bash League and the Champions League, the leading light in the T20 franchise world has finally been beaten.
As their conquerors, Perth Scorchers, cruised towards a victory target of 114 on Sunday night, eventually reached with four balls and seven wickets to spare, the ubiquitous Gangnam Style screeched over the SCG Tannoy. It was worth remembering the Sixers hadn't lost a game since well before that song came out of South Korea to become a global hit. In the unpredictable, hit-or-miss arena of the 20-over format, that is no mean feat.
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Perth pound Sydney Sixers
The Perth Scorchers travelled to the Sydney Cricket Ground with high hopes of ending the Sixers 12 game unbeaten run.
"In my short stint here at the Sixers that was our worst overall performance as a side. We definitely didn't deserve to win that match," Sixers all-rounder Stephen O'Keefe said. "We were well off par with bat and ball, and in the field."
They were brought down ruthlessly by the Scorchers, captained by a former resident of the venue, Simon Katich, and who they defeated in the final to claim last summer's BBL title. It was the ninth time in nine matches in this BBL season that the team batting second has prevailed.
No wonder Katich sent the Sixers in. Chasing is very much in right now.
The loss, which leaves the Sixers with a 1-1 record, wasn't the fault of their bowlers, although dropping Herschelle Gibbs (40 from 42 balls) in consecutive deliveries didn't help. Instead the finger could be pointed at a disastrous batting collapse that left the hosts in trouble immediately and with no way back despite the best efforts of the lower order. Jimmy Barnes, with magenta-and-black strip on, was the Sixers' special-guest 12th man beside their dugout, and it was a couple of working-class men, school teacher Ian Moran and policeman Luke Feldman, who helped the home team from the brink to stage an impressive comeback with the bat.
The Sixers' evening had begun awfully. Within 20 minutes they had lost their three key batsmen – captain Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques and Steve Smith – as well as Daniel Smith, to capitulate to 4-14 inside the first five overs.
When Jeevan Mendis and Dom Thornely followed soon after, the hosts were teetering at 6-28 in the ninth over and looking anything but the defending champions they are.
The pre-match scratching of their opener Nic Maddinson with a groin injury didn't help, but they were going downhill faster than the Scorchers' booze-tainted Champions League campaign in October.
A quick search of T20 records revealed the lowest 20-over score in history to be 30, made by the Indian team Tripura in a game against Jharkhand in 2009. The Scorchers, coincidentally, own the lowest BBL score, the 69 they were rolled for against the Melbourne Stars last week. The Sixers spared themselves those indignities but with only a solitary boundary in the first 10 overs they were effectively going backwards.
A 37-run partnership between O'Keefe (29 from 34 balls) and Moran (20 from 14) arrested the slide and the stagnation, then late plundering from Brett Lee (22 from 15) and Feldman (12 from 10) allowed the Sixers to post a total that had appeared light years away an hour earlier. A score of 113 was never likely to be enough, and their dream run is over.