Sydney Sixers 152 for 8 (Henriques 59, Hughes 42, Neser 3-27, Johnson 2-14) beat Brisbane Heat 113 all out (Peirson 26, Dwarshuis 5-21, Kerr 2-18, Edwards, 2-26) by 39 runs
Sixers’ disciplined quicks were excellent in helpful bowling conditions with Dwarshuis claiming 5 for 21 while allrounder Jack Edwards took a stunning one-handed return catch to finish with two wickets. Sixers will host the final at the SCG on January 24 as they seek a fourth BBL title.
Heat’s hopes to end an 11-year title drought goes on the line in the Challenger on Monday against the winner of Saturday’s knockout final between Scorchers and in-form Adelaide Strikers.
Top-ranked Heat had lost just one regular season match but failed to ease concerns over their batting order which has been gutted after a number of withdrawals.
There had been an unknown over the surface in the first match played on the Gold Coast this season after Heat shifted grounds due to the Gabba’s unavailability ahead of the second Test between Australia and West Indies.
He countered swing by effectively taking the aerial route to force Heat captain Nathan McSweeney to remove the lone slip. But Edwards holed out to Neser in the third over after Paul Walter took a fine catch running back.
Heat were on top when left-arm quick Spencer Johnson nicked off Josh Philippe in a decision overturned on review to cap a wicket maiden in his first over. Reaching speeds of 147 kph, Johnson was unplayable early as Hughes and Henriques were forced to rebuild.
In contrast to his late heroics against Scorchers, Henriques played sedately and scored just nine runs off his first 20 deliveries. But in trademark fashion, he remained calm and made his move just before drinks with a six down the ground off legspinner Mitchell Swepson and went on to add a boundary moments later.
Heat were left to rue dropping Henriques twice after the resumption and he made them pay by dominating the power surge across overs 13 and 14. Seamer Xavier Bartlett has enjoyed a breakout BBL season by bowling an accurate hard length, but an adventurous Henriques rattled him by shuffling across his stumps to thump him over the legside. Bartlett leaked 25 runs as Sixers smashed a season-high 38 runs in the power surge. But Hughes was outfoxed by a slower short delivery from Walter in the 15th over to trigger a collapse.
Sixers lost 5 for 23 with Henriques struggling to regain his earlier momentum and he fell in the 18th over to a relieved Bartlett, who again showed his death bowling specialty.
In reply, Heat were tied up early with big-hitting opener Josh Brown struggling to handle the two-paced pitch. He scored just two off his first 13 balls before skipping down the wicket and smashing seamer Sean Abbott for six over mid-off. But Brown and Jimmy Peirson succumbed to accurate Sixers bowling as the run rate required soared to above 10 an over by the midpoint.
The pressure fell on Matt Renshaw, who just two days earlier was released from Australia’s first Test squad to play in this match. Heat sought the power surge in the 12th over and Renshaw tried to turn the game by blasting two sixes.
But he fell in the 13th over to Dwarshuis, who with his next delivery removed Walter and it was just a matter of time before Sixers reached their seventh BBL final.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth