Cockbain belts Strikers into BBL finals
Boom recruit Ian Cockbain has blasted the Adelaide Strikers to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over the second-placed Sydney Sixers, securing a berth in the BBL finals.
Cockbain (71no) and former Test opener Matt Renshaw (50) bludgeoned the Strikers to their fourth consecutive victory, sailing past the Sixers' 7-161 with 15 deliveries to spare at Adelaide Oval on Monday night.
Renshaw was the early aggressor, crunching 29 of the Strikers' first 32 runs before opening partner Henry Hunt joined in the power-hitting party.
Hunt departed for 15 towards the end of a violent powerplay, during which the Strikers smoked nine boundaries, but the sustained onslaught continued through Renshaw and No.3 Cockbain, who combined for 53 for the second wicket.
Renshaw was bowled by Hayden Kerr when he missed an attempted scoop but English import Cockbain continued to thrive in unison with Jon Wells (27no).
Cockbain, who turns 35 next month, struck five fours and four sixes in his majestic 42-ball knock and now averages 123 for the tournament since joining the Strikers four days ago.
Earlier, unsung Justin Avendano (52) smacked a sparkling maiden half-century after veteran wristspinner Fawad Ahmed (3-16) had put the Sixers in a spin. Fawad bowled Josh Philippe (22) behind his legs with a slider in his first over.
He also bowled Jack Edwards (34) with a perfectly-pitched legbreak and had Daniel Hughes caught behind (golden duck) off successive deliveries to have the Sixers staggering at 4-84.
Avendano saw off Fawad's hat-trick ball and enjoyed a slice of luck on 15 when he was awarded a six after originally being given out on umpire Darren Close's soft signal when Hunt juggled a catch at deep mid-wicket.
But in a desperately close call, television umpire Nathan Johnstone determined Hunt's foot brushed the boundary cushion.
Avendano made the most of his reprieve, raising his half-ton with his fifth six before holing out to Cockbain off Strikers captain Peter Siddle (2-32) in the 20th over.