Sydney Sixers 3 for 176 (Smith 66*, Philippe 61) beat Melbourne Renegades 5 for 175 (Finch 109, Curran 3-27) by seven wickets
A masterful innings from Steven Smith helped the Sydney Sixers finish their regular season at second place in the BBL table, but they will have to wait for the Adelaide Strikers' last match to see whether they cling onto a place in the Qualifier which would allow them two chances to reach the final.
Smith, with his highest BBL score, and Josh Philippe were the main architects of a successful chase after Aaron Finch's century hauled the Melbourne Renegades out of a mid-innings slumber to a competitive total. It was Finch's eighth T20 century, putting him joint second - along with Michael Klinger and David Warner - behind the runaway leader Chris Gayle on 22.
Tom Curran signed off his BBL stint - he will miss the finals due to England duty - with 3 for 27 while Steven O'Keefe (1 for 27 with 11 dot balls) put in another important display.
There were times when the chase did not look entirely comfortable as the asking rate nudged towards ten an over, but Philippe struck the ball cleanly and it was just the sort of situation for Smith to get into gear before the finals.
Go slow after a mini Cooper
In a rejigged Melbourne Renegades batting order - without the injured Shaun Marsh (hamstring) and Sam Harper (concussion) - it was Tom Cooper who led an early charge as he laid into Josh Hazlewood's opening over after being dropped off its first ball when he scooped over short fine leg where Ben Dwarshuis couldn't hold a swirling chance. The last two deliveries of the over were dispatched for six, the second a mighty hit over deep square that hit the roof of the Brewongle Stand. Cooper fell to a juggling catch by Nathan Lyon in the fourth over but the Renegades were handily placed on 1 for 54 after the powerplay. However, the next eight overs brought just 40 runs as debutant Nathan McSweeney struggled for his timing and the in-form Beau Webster made 7 off 12.
Finch verses Lyon
This was a terrific contest between two recent international team-mates. Finch was given two lives in Lyon's third over - the 11th of the innings - as the Renegades stalled; dropped by Jordan Silk as he sprinted in from deep midwicket and two balls later by Philippe who couldn't gather a thick edge. It was the start of Lyon's last over, the 15th, where Finch - who was 47 off 44 at the time - decided enough with the prodding around and two him for consecutive sixes. In the next over off Curran he was dropped again, on 62, when Dwarshuis' poor day continued when he spilled a regulation chance at deep cover which left Curran fuming. Dwarshuis then felt the brunt of Finch's onslaught as 22 came off the 17th over as three figures raced into view. Another six off Hazlewood took him into the 90s and the century came from 63 balls in the penultimate over. Finch ended with a strike-rate of 175 against Lyon (28 runs off 16 balls) and 205 against Dwarshuis (37 off 18).
James Vince struck two handsome boundaries in the opening over of the chase and when Philippe took 18 from Dan Christian's first over the Sixers were properly up and running. The Renegades made a breakthrough in fortuitous circumstances when Will Sutherland could not hold a stinging drive by Philippe in his follow-through, but the ball deflected into the non-striker's stumps with Vince well out of his ground. The Renegades had two chances to remove Philippe in the eighth over, Cameron Boyce's first, but Christian could hold a tough chance at short cover then McSweeney shelled a running chance at deep midwicket.
Philippe sets it up, Smith finishes
After some mid-tournament difficulties, Philippe has found form again at what could be just the right time. He constructed a 32-ball half-century which came up during an over where he took on Boyce just when the required rate was ticking up. The fifty came with a slog-sweep but the inside-out drive which followed was even better. There was a chance for him to finish the chase with a big score to match Finch, but he became Sutherland's first BBL wicket when he was caught in the deep. With Moises Henriques following shortly after there was a chance things could go wrong for the Sixers, but Smith ensured that wasn't the case. After ticking over at a run-a-ball for the first part of his innings he started to find the boundary more regularly and brought up a 32-ball fifty with a reverse sweep off Boyce. A six off Kane Richardson brought it down to a run-a-ball and from there it was never in doubt.