The match in a tweet: Sixers strangle the Renegades as spinners O’Keefe and Manenti fire to lead their team to vital #BBL08 victory
The score: Sydney Sixers 7-132 (Silk 30; Richardson 3-22, Wildermuth 2-22) defeated Melbourne Renegades 9-99 (Harvey 30; Curran 3-18, Manenti 2-13) by 33 runs
The heroes: In a match where batsmen struggled, Sydney Sixers’ spin twins – both at opposite ends of their careers – performed with aplomb in a vital KFC BBL fixture to improve their team’s record to 2-2. The experienced Steve O’Keefe took his wickets tally in BBL|08 to nine from four games with another tidy performance, returning 2-19 from four overs. O’Keefe is the competition’s leading wicket-taker, boasting an average of 9.33 and an economy rate of 5.60. Off-spinner Ben Manenti, a product of the Sixers Academy, grabbed 2-13 from his four overs in his first match to stake his claim for a regular spot in the Sixers’ XI. Manenti plays for Sydney Cricket Club and was named player of the match in a memorable maiden BBL outing. He and O’Keefe were ice cool against the Renegades’ experienced middle order and engineered a collapse. Spinners have been hugely effective in the BBL and the Sixers may have found the right combination.
The supporting cast: While the slow bowlers spearheaded the victory, pacemen Tom Curran (3-18) and Sean Abbott (2-16) all kept it tight and applied relentless pressure after their team posted what looked to be a small total of 7-132. But on a difficult pitch for batsmen, the Renegades never threatened with wickets falling throughout the middle of the innings as they were crushed by 33 runs.
The consolation acts: Kane Richardson displayed his full skillset to lead a fine bowling performance from the Renegades. The paceman claimed the key wickets of Englishman Joe Denly and the in-form Jordan Silk to finish with 3-22 from four overs. His clever variations caused myriad headaches for the Sixers batsmen but what appeared a low total proved sufficient. Jack Wildermuth (2-22), Usman Shinwari (1-17) and Mohammad Nabi (1-17) also impressed.
The debutants: Young batsman Mackenzie Harvey left no one in any doubt about his ability in his BBL debut for the Renegades, contributing 30 from 25 balls at the top of the order and showing his aptitude in the field by taking a catch to go with his impressive ground fielding. But the 18-year-old was removed by the opposition’s debutant in the eighth over of his team’s innings, with 21-year-old off-spinner Manenti disturbing Harvey’s stumps. It proved an important blow for the Sixers as they posted a vital victory after consecutive defeats.
The big over: Thirteen proved unlucky for the Renegades as Sixers spinner O’Keefe applied the clamps in the 13th over. With the hosts 4-66, the tweaker removed Mohammad Nabi and Sam Harper in a decisive over to reduce the Renegades to 6-68. Game over.
The stat: The Renegades enjoyed a flying start to their innings, with openers Harvey and Tim Ludeman blasting five boundaries in the first three overs. Harvey then cleared the fence in the seventh over but it took a remarkable 58 balls for the home side to find the fence again at Marvel Stadium. With wickets also tumbling, their undefeated start to this summer’s tournament was always coming to an end.
The catch: Sixers skipper Moises Henriques has had a tough start to BBL|08 with the bat, but he held on to this offering from key Renegades batsman Cameron White to continue his fine form in the field after also snaring a classic catch against Melbourne Stars on December 27. This one may look simple, but it’s never easy when the ball almost collides with the roof at Marvel Stadium…