After what has happened in recent matches at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, Perth Scorchers would have been disappointed to have lost the bat flip and having had to bat first. But that didn’t hinder them from putting up a clinical all-round performance as they defeated Brisbane Heat by 49 runs (DLS method) in the Big Bash League 10 Challenger.
The Scorchers were dealt a blow ahead of the game as their star opener Jason Roy was ruled out due to an ankle injury. His presence wasn’t felt as the opening pair of Liam Livingstone and Cameron Bancroft put on a 114-run stand for the first wicket.
For the Heat, Xavier Bartlett began proceedings with a solid first over, just like he had done in the game against Sydney Thunder. He gave the batsmen something to worry about with his out-swinging deliveries and, as a result, was given a second over which hadn’t happened in recent matches.
But the following period in the game belonged to the Scorchers. Livingstone, especially, was sensational – bringing up his fifty off just 27 deliveries. He was brilliant against spin, hitting Marcus Labuschagne for three sixes in the 10th over of the innings. Bancroft played a good supporting role and the partnership was worth more than a hundred by the end of the 10th over.
Then, with Bartlett having already bowled more than one over, the Heat decided to replace Mark Steketee with Morne Morkel as part of an X-Factor substitution. It was a surprise as Steketee was the Heat’s top wicket-taker this season. The move didn’t work as Morkel didn’t take a wicket while conceding 45 runs in his four overs.
There was a phase when the Heat managed to stage a fightback, with the Scorchers managing only 19 runs between overs 11-14. The wicket of Liam Livingstone was crucial then as the Scorchers opener was absolutely flying, having scored 77 from just 39 deliveries. His innings included five fours and six sixes before he was dismissed by Mitchell Swepson.
Recognising that momentum was slipping away, the team from Perth decided to take the Power Surge at the start of the 15th over and that move worked as 33 runs came off the next couple of overs. And led by Mitchell Marsh, who was promoted to number three, it was all Scorchers from thereon.
While Cameron Bancroft brought up his first half-century of the season, Marsh was unbeaten on 49 from just 28 deliveries when rain halted play after 18.1 overs. The Scorchers’ score read 189/1 at the time and that was the end of their innings, with the Heat getting a revised target of 200 from 18 overs with the DLS method coming into play.
With a daunting required run-rate, the Heat needed a top start and they managed to begin well. While there were a few mishits from Chris Lynn at the start of his innings, the Heat openers managed to take 22 runs off the third over which gave them the momentum that they were looking for.
But their hopes were dented soon enough as Jason Behrendorff dismissed both openers, Joe Denly and Lynn, off successive deliveries to put the Scorchers in complete control at the end of the Powerplay. At the start of the fourth over, according to Criclytics, the Heat’s chances of a win were at 34% and it dropped to 18% at the end of the over. It was all one-way traffic thereafter.
After Behrendorff's double strike in the Powerplay, last game's star Sam Heazlett became Aaron Hardie's first scalp in seven matches. Labuschagne also had to head back to the pavilion soon after, getting bowled by Fawad Ahmed. While Joe Burns made 24-ball 38, there wasn’t much support for him from the other end and, with the monumental required run-rate, even his knock was far from enough.
Hardie helped himself to career-best T20 bowling figures of 3/46 and was unlucky to have not got a fourth wicket after Andrew Tye put down a chance in the final over of the game. Tye, himself, did well when it came to his bowling, accounting for two dismissals.
The Heat eventually ended their innings on 150/9 and as a result, Scorchers will now face Sydney Sixers in the final on Saturday (6 February 2021).