How Sydney Sixers defied the odds to win BBL
The Sydney Sixers should never have won the Big Bash title this season.
Equal last in the betting markets at the start of the competition, BBL09 wasn't supposed to be their time.
But the men in magenta didn't get the memo because they were following a different script to everyone else.
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Time and time again, their season was in danger of imploding. For every step forward, a step back followed, until the acid test was applied and they broke skipped ahead as their rivals all tripped up.
The Sixers didn't get off to a great start, losing two of their first three matches.
In the back end of the season, when spots in the semi-finals were still up for grabs, they hit another low, flogged by the Melbourne Stars as Marcus Stoinis (147 not) made the highest individual score in BBL history and shared in the biggest partnership ever (207 for the opening wicket with Hilton Cartwright).
Less than a week later, the Sixers were bowled out for just 76 by the Sydney Thunder and any talk about their chances of winning the title was forgotten.
But the Sixers were just warming up.
Nathan Lyon returned from international duties to help avenge the loss to the Stars, who were about to choke again.
Then Steve Smith came back and they defeated the Brisbane Heat and Josh Hazlewood returned in time for the last game against the Melbourne Renegades.
Momentum was back on their side but they just needed an ounce of luck and their wishes were answered when the Adelaide Strikers lost their final match at home to the Hobart Hurricanes, ensuring the Sixers finished second to get two shots at making the final.
They won the right to host the decider at the SCG when the Stars crumbled chasing a small title then clinched their second BBL title when the Stars crumbled again in the final.
It wasn't just Smith, Lyon and Hazlewood that won it for the Sixers, as the skipper Moises Henriques was quick to point out.
"We've bounced back from every single setback or whenever a team's done well against us the next time we've played them we've seemed to have bounced back quite well," Henriques said.
"I think that's a testament to our all players for how they hang in there and how they learn."
The older heads, Steve O'Keefe, Sean Abbott, Dan Hughes, Jordan Silk and James Vince, all made important contributions, as did some of the younger players, including Ben Dwarshuis, Lloyd Pope, Ben Manenti, and the two standouts - Tom Curran and Josh Philippe.
Curran missed the playoffs because he had to return to England duties but the all-rounder won three man of the match awards and was the only Sixers player named in the official team of the tournament.
Just 22, Philippe was named man of the match in the final after scoring his fifth - but most important - half-century of a season in which he plundered 487 runs to announce himself as a future international.
"When I played my first Big Bash game I was terrified," Philippe said.
"My game's developed so much over the last year and I think I'm really learning how to handle myself in pressure situations."
Henriques is backing Philippe to go all the way but urged patience.
"The destiny is there - it is in his hands," Henriques said. "He has definitely got the talent to go on but it is up to him."