Sydney Sixers skipper Daniel Hughes has played one of the great captain's knocks to guide his side to a miracle win over the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.
Hughes stunned the Stars, smashing 96 off just 51 deliveries as the Sixers chased a victory target of 194 with a ball and a wicket to spare at Metricon Stadium on Boxing Day.
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Melbourne would have felt safe after Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran combined to smash 125 runs for the fifth wicket, featuring 13 sixes, as the Stars made 5-193 in their innings.
West Indian left-hander Pooran, batting for the first time this summer for the Stars, smashed 65 off just 26 balls to delight a small crowd at a mostly empty Metricon Stadium.
Maxwell finished the innings with his fifth six to end on 71 not out off 47 balls in a typically destructive display from the Australian all-rounder.
That partnership looked a match-winner as the Sixers struggled to keep wickets in hand but Hughes' knock, which included six fours and seven sixes delivered them an unlikely win.
The Sixers' hopes appeared shot when Maxwell caught big-hitting West Indian Carlos Brathwaite (21 off 12) on the boundary in the penultimate over.
That meant Sydney had to score 20 runs off the final over with just two wickets in hand.
Up stepped Hughes to seal an unlikely win, courtesy of a devastating late spell of big-hitting.
Hughes made the most of Nathan Coulter-Nile being off the field with a calf injury, leaving Maxwell to bowl the final over.
The Sixers skipper smashed a six, a four and a six before holing out but four leg-byes off the penultimate ball to Steve O'Keefe then sealed the win for the Sixers.
The extraordinary finish left fans gushing with praise for Hughes on social media.
— Md Asiqul Islam🇧🇩 (@MdAsiqulIslam6) December 26, 2020
— Aman_khurana #RCB (@AKhurana1812) December 26, 2020
Daniel Hughes take a bow man 🔥
— Shahzeb Malik (@shahzeb_malik04) December 26, 2020
Daniel Hughes 96(50) is mind blowing!! Feel for maxi
And this match reminds me the match between CSK and DC where axar patel finished with 4 6's in last over off jadeja instead of Bravo
Coulter Nile was injured so maxi has taken the responsibility to bowl the last over
— Ritwik Narayana 🇮🇳 (@RitwikNalla) December 26, 2020
— yuvi. (@singhyuvraj_18) December 26, 2020
Daniel Hughes deserved century ....what an outstanding knock from the skipper
— Ganesh sobanapuram (@imGANESH25) December 26, 2020
— Memesxcricket (@Cricketmemes10) December 26, 2020
Hughes took confidence from teammates
"I did something like that in a trial game so I actually didn't know I had that in me until DC (Dan Christian) and there's a few other guys that have just given me the confidence in the middle order to just go out there and play shots," the 31-year-old said.
"Swing easy. Be calm when you need to be and it came off today.
"Now that I know that it's there, it's just trying to repeat it over and over again."
Stars coach David Hussey said Coulter-Nile had suffered a calf strain and, despite putting his hand up to bowl the final over, was talked out of it for fear he would make his injury worse.
"20 to win, yeah you'd like to think so," Hussey said when asked if it would have been a different outcome with Coulter-Nile available for the last over.
"He's one of the world's best T20 players ... but the way Daniel Hughes was hitting them, like anything could have happened.
"I honestly believed we were still going to pinch the game when Cartwright took his catch and I thought, right, yeah, we're going to win this but it wasn't to be."
The Sixers next play the Melbourne Renegades at Metricon Stadium on Tuesday while the Stars travel to Canberra on the same day to play the Sydney Thunder.
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