Sydney Sixers 175 for 6 (Smith 61, Henriques 40, Sutherland 2-21) beat Melbourne Renegades 167 for 7 (Sutherland 51*, Fraser-McGurk 48, Dwarshuis 3-36) by eight runs
Steven Smith smashed a half-century in another statement as Sydney Sixers overcame a superb allround performance from Will Sutherland to edge Melbourne Renegades out at the SCG.
In what will be a rare BBL appearance this season, six days before the first Test between Australia and Pakistan, Smith again relished opening the batting to top-score in Sixers’ 175 for 6.
No.3 Jake Fraser-McGurk made Sixers’ veteran attack nervous with a furious 48 off 24 balls, but his dismissal just before drinks left Renegades in peril at 78 for 4.
Sixers were made to work with Sutherland, having earlier starred with the ball, providing a late twist. He bludgeoned an unbeaten 51 from 30 balls before Sixers secured their eighth straight win over Renegades.
Several of the high-profile signings for Renegades, who last season made finals in a bounce back, did not play including Test spinner Nathan Lyon. But legspinner Adam Zampa performed well with 2 for 24 after crossing over from Melbourne Stars.
It wasn’t enough for them to break a Sixers hoodoo with Smith once again relishing returning to the BBL.
Smith has openly stated his desire to open the batting for Australia at next year’s T20 World Cup having shuffled around the order previously. He auditioned for the role late in last season’s BBL with blistering centuries in consecutive innings.
Smith also made a half-century against India during the recent T20I series in his first opportunity to open at the international level.
After Sixers were sent into bat, Smith starred with 61 off 42 balls in a knock mixing gorgeous traditional strokes with inventive tennis-like swats. He waited patiently for the strike with opener Josh Philippe hitting a boundary off the first ball of the innings to foreshadow what was ahead.
Philippe, once a BBL standout who has endured a torrid run in this season’s Sheffield Shield, was in superb touch with five boundaries in his first 11 deliveries.
Smith wasn’t to be overshadowed and made his move in the third over by whipping seamer Tom Rogers through backward square before bludgeoning a six over deep square on the next delivery.
With pace having no impact, offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was thrusted into the attack in the powerplay but Smith treated him with disdain by striking three straight boundaries through the offside.
Smith raced to 25 off 10 balls as Sixers stormed to 48 for 0 after four overs. Zampa hoped to stem the onslaught, but Philippe slog swept him for six into the famous Member’s Pavilion.
Ben Dwarshuis picked up three crucial wickets to dent Renegades•Cricket Australia/Getty Images
Sutherland provided a much-needed breakthrough with his first ball after Philippe chopped on and James Vince fell in similar fashion later in the over. Bowling a hard length, the towering Sutherland led a fightback with a brilliant four-over spell.
He was difficult to score off as Smith reverted to unfurling the ramp shot to hit a rare boundary in the middle overs. Smith reached his half-century off 31 balls, but struggled to regain his earlier fluency and eventually holed out to deep midwicket off Zampa.
Zampa on his next delivery clean bowled Tom Curran with a brilliant googly to continue Renegades’ stirring comeback. But late hitting from Jordan Silk and Jack Edwards lifted Sixers to a strong total.
Renegades’ hopes rested on Fraser-McGurk just two months after he entered the record books for the fastest ever List A century. Wickets fell around him, but Fraser-McGurk was undaunted and whacked 18 runs in the third over off seamer Jackson Bird.
He then whipped quick Sean Abbott for six to race to 24 off nine deliveries before pulverising Edwards over long-on and onto the roof.
Fraser-McGurk, playing his 26th BBL game, rapidly closed in on a maiden half-century before being bamboozled by a clever slow bumper from veteran quick Ben Dwarshuis.
Veteran Aaron Finch overcame a scratchy start to provide support for Sutherland, but Renegades were always pushing an uphill battle. Sutherland tried his best and a huge six off Dwarshuis meant Renegades needed 14 off the last four balls.
But Dwarshuis did enough to complete a resilient performance after his father passed away this week.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth