Sixers smash Thunder to go second in BBL
Veteran spinner Steve O'Keefe's body is feeling "old, fat, slow, and sore", but his match-turning stint and a return to form from star batter Josh Philippe powered the Sydney Sixers to a thumping 60-run win over Sydney Thunder.
The win at the SCG on Saturday moved the Sixers into second on net run rate above Thunder, who have played one more game and suffered back-to-back losses.
"To finish in the top two, that's the plan always, we're not there yet," said O'Keefe, who took 4-18.
The Sixers made 5-197 with Philippe (57 off 39), Daniel Hughes (66 off 48) and captain Moises Henriques (47 not out off 27) lifting the tempo massively, after their side scored a competition low of just eight from a four-over powerplay.
Thunder tallied 28 more in the powerplay than the Sixers, but 37-year-old O'Keefe, back after missing two matches with a hand injury, triggered a massive collapse.
He took two wickets in both his first and third overs as Thunder lost 7-38 before a ninth-wicket stand of 56 salvaged some pride.
Captain Chris Green (50 off 31) scored his first BBL half century, with the visitors finishing on 9-137.
It was O'Keefe's second four-wicket haul this season, but with calf and hand injuries limiting him to seven games this season and the general state of his body, he said it was "highly unlikely" he would play in the BBL next summer.
Alex Hales (23 off 18) got the Thunder off to a rapid start, taking three fours off Sean Abbott in the second over.
O'Keefe bowled Hales with his first delivery and had Alex Ross caught behind three balls later.
The left arm tweaker struck twice more in his third over.
He had the dangerous Daniel Sams caught at long on and Oliver Davies stumped, as Thunder slumped to 5-61 in the tenth over and to 8-80 in the 13th.
O'Keefe said he had no special plans for renowned big hitter Hales, or Ross.
"My main game is always pretty defensive I'm just trying to shut down their big scoring options," O'Keefe said.
Jordan Silk came off the field with what looked like it might be a recurrence of his recent hamstring injury, but O'Keefe said it might only have been cramp.
Thunder had the ascendancy early as the Sixers took 28 balls to notch their first boundary.
Coming off a lean run of three ducks in four innings, Philippe was dropped on nine and made Thunder pay.
Philippe smashed five fours and two sixes, pulling off some well executed ramps and big legside hits.
Australian T20 and ODI representative Philippe and Hughes picked up the pace, adding 82 in just under ten overs.
Hughes, who scored just two off his first 11 balls, brought up a record fifth half-century, in Sydney Smash matches, a fixture in which he has scored more runs than any other player.
Hughes and Henriques put on 77 in seven overs.
Thunder were guilty of sloppy fielding and pacemen Mohammed Hasnain and Daniel Sams were visibly agitated, with the former exchanging words with Henriques, who seemed to cheekily suggest Hasnain was throwing.
Hasnain (0-22), who was playing his last match before returning to Pakistan, was clearly Thunder's most economical bowler.