Daniel Hughes and James Vince have piloted the Sydney Sixers to a nine-wicket rain-affected win over a meek Sydney Thunder and into the Big Bash League finals.
The Thunder made a meagre 6-128 but the Sixers’ target was reduced to 84 runs from 12 overs after two rain delays on Saturday night at the SCG.
Hughes – fresh from a superb unbeaten half-century against Adelaide – made 41no and Vince (43no) gently guided their side to victory, chasing down the revised target with nine balls to spare.
Their fourth win in a row elevates the Sixers to second spot with one game remaining and ensures they will return to the post-season for the first time since losing the 2017 final.
They are finding momentum at the right time of the season and in the hunt for their second title and fourth final appearance.
It leaves the Thunder only a mathematical chance to make the semi-finals.
They must beat ladder leaders Hobart next week in Canberra plus rely on a host of results to fall their way.
For the Thunder to qualify, the Melbourne Stars much lose their final three games and Adelaide must drop one of their two remaining fixtures.
The home side made the worst possible start to their run chase when Josh Philippe’s horror night continued when run out first ball after an embarrassing mix-up with Hughes.
Philippe earlier dropped a catch after racing 15m to try to dismiss Callum Ferguson after the Thunder batsman skied a Steve O’Keefe delivery.
Hughes and Vince never looked in danger, making light work of the chase.
The Thunder’s total looked well below par after Sean Abbott snared the key wickets of Jason Sangha (5) and Anton Devcich (22), finishing with 2-23 from his four overs.
Chris Green top-scored for the Thunder with 34no but couldn’t find the accelerator and propel them to a competitive total late in the innings.
The Sixers’ bowlers were particularly sharp at the death, taking three wickets and conceding just 38 runs in the final five overs.
Former internationals Shane Watson (28) and Ferguson (26) also made starts but crucially could not push on.
Hughes said his side never felt pressured, even when Philippe threw his wicket away.
“When we won the toss, we were thinking we would be happy to chase 150-160. It turns out the boys bowled another team out for 130, which they’ve done a couple of times this season,” Hughes said.
“When we go out there to bat, there’s no panic because we’re only chasing seven an over. The bowlers got the job done again.”
Watson said the loss summed up their season.
“That’s the way the season’s gone at times. We’ve played some really good cricket but we just let ourselves down a little bit,” Watson said.
“Not horrendously, but we let ourselves down a little bit at times. But you’ve got to be more consistent.”
“Just slightly off. We couldn’t get any momentum with the bat except for the first couple of overs.”