This was the second Champions League T20 title for a team from New South Wales; current champions Brad Haddin, Steve O’Keefe, Moises Henriques, Steve Smith and Ben Rohrer were part of the winning NSW squad in 2009 too. Like the previous final, Haddin almost missed this one with an injured thumb, but not only was he spot on with the call at the toss, he spun a rabbit out of his hat after putting Lions in.
Sixers’ three fast bowlers could one day form the Australia Test attack, they have been the talk of the tournament, but they opened with two spinners on a pitch that reminded Stuart Clark of his six-over-54-run nightmare at the same venue six years ago. Nathan McCullum, who wasn’t called upon to bowl and scored a golden duck in the semi-final, was to perform the opening act of the big night. And it seemed the tournament would get worse for him when Gulam Bodi lofted the third ball of the match over long-on.
Then the leading run-getter of the tournament, Bodi, didn’t pause for a breath, and top-edged the next ball straight to deep square leg. A little more meat behind the mis-hit, and it might have travelled all the way in the rarefied Highveld air, and McCullum would have been 13 runs down. As it turned out, it was to be the night of the man from southern New Zealand playing for a southern Australian state.
The rest of the Lions top order then, seemingly over-reaching on the flat track, played some ordinary shots. Quinton de Kock and Neil McKenzie swiped across the line for top edges, and continuing with the momentum O’Keefe snared captain Alviro Petersen with one that turned across him. Symes then put up a lesson for his mates. His hitting through the line and along the ground showed the pitch was flat as expected, and that the shot selection hadn’t been spot on.
After the promotion of Sohail Tanvir flopped to make it 32 for 5, Symes added 41 with the hit-and-miss Thami Tsolekile and 38 with the big-hitting Dwaine Pretorius. During the second of those partnerships, Sixers began to make a few mistakes in the field, but Rohrer roared back with a direct hit from point to run Pretorius out. That was Lions’ final slide as they lost their last four wickets for 10.
The injured Haddin came out to open with Michael Lumb, and they were cautious against Sohail Tanvir and Dirk Nannes, reaching only 23 after five overs. At the first sight of spin, Lumb tried to break free, but Bodi dropped him at long-off. In the next over, it was Haddin’s turn to be dropped, by Pretorius at deep square leg. There wasn’t to be a third chance. Just to rub it in, though, Lumb overtook the man who dropped him, Bodi, as the leading run-scorer of the tournament. Mitchell Starc led the wickets tally to make it a clean sweep for Sixers.