Brad Haddin gave Australian cricket selectors a timely reminder of his wicketkeeping abilities with two brilliant catches as the Sydney Sixers maintained their perfect record at the Champions League T20 cricket tournament.
Sydney successfully defended a modest score of 7-136, restricting Mumbai Indians to 8-124 Tuesday morning (AEDT), their fourth win from as many group games.
They must now wait to see whether they play India’s Delhi Daredevils, South Africa’s Titans or New Zealand’s Auckland Aces in the semi-finals.
Steve Smith (41 off 41 balls) kept Sydney in the contest after they crashed to 6-98.
The Sixers then produced an outstanding bowling and fielding effort after Mumbai compiled an opening stand of 52.
Haddin, who relinquished his Test spot when he returned home from the West Indies tour earlier this year when his young daughter fell seriously ill, maintained his strong early season form.
He leapt athletically to catch danger man Kieron Pollard (4 off 9) and then executed a breathtaking one-handed snare from a full-length dive to remove Lasith Malinga (1 from 4).
When it was suggested to him at the post-match presentation he was sending a message to the selectors that he was still around and awake, the laconic Haddin quipped: “I’m always awake.”
While incumbent Matthew Wade is being widely tipped to retain the gloves for next month’s opening Test against South Africa, Haddin has started the new season well.
He followed up a Shield century against Tasmania with a couple of valuable knocks in the Champions League, though he was out for a second-ball duck against Mumbai.
Sydney’s slick ground fielding produced direct hit run outs from Pat Cummins and Nathan McCullum and saved several singles and boundaries.
The Sixers proved they could win without talismanic allrounder Shane Watson, who returned home last weekend to rest up and prepare for the South Africa series.
“Shane is a big loss but we knew that was happening so it’s actually not something we’ve really dwelt on,” Haddin said.
Michael Lumb (28 from 22) and Nic Maddinson (27 from 13) provided some early dash.
New Zealand international McCullum (20 off 12) added valuable late runs.
Mumbai openers Sachin Tendulkar (22 off 23) and Dwayne Smith (26 off 28) survived some testing early deliveries from Josh Hazlewood (0-20 off four over) and Mitchell Starc (2-32 off four overs).
Moises Henriques dragged Sydney back into the contest by removing both openers in the space of four balls as he finished with 2-29 off his full quota, while Pat Cummins also shone with 2-16 as Mumbai lost 8-52.
The win moved Sydney within two victories of the $US2.5 million first prize.
“We’re a couple of days away from a semi-final,” Haddin said.
“All that stuff (about the money) will take care of itself.”