Perth Scorchers 7/134 (20 Overs) Defeated By Melbourne Stars 3/137 (17.2 Overs)
Stars On Top After Third Straight Win
The Melbourne Stars remain on course for a sixth consecutive finals’ series appearance after a dominant 7-wicket victory over the Scorchers in Perth on Saturday night. The Stars amazingly now head the BBL6 table, with two regular season games to go, after looking in some trouble just a week ago when sitting at 1-2. The Stars took a strangle hold on the match after reducing the Scorchers to 4-13 early, before holding them to a very mediocre total of 7/134. Despite Perth coming out firing with the ball, the Stars were able to ride out some bumpy moments as Kevin Pietersen (44n/o) and a brilliant cameo from Marcus Stoinis (40n/o) saw them safely across the line. The Scorchers now lie at 4-3 in third spot, with one match to play. A win would give them a chance at a home semi-final, while a loss will leave them in the lap of the gods in a hotly contested BBL6 table.
Stars Bowlers Leading The Charge
I sort of subscribe to the theory, in most forms of cricket, that batsmen get you to finals but bowlers win you championships. As in other ball sports, “offence” and flashy plays might get you most of the way, but "defence" and doing the nitty gritty right is what will get you over the line in the clutch. If my theory holds true, the Stars might just be the team to beat this year as their "defence" - in their bowling and fielding outfit are consistent and miserly. In Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus and Scott Boland, they have three senior bowlers really hitting their straps and keeping sides to moderate to low totals. Beer hasn't quite been at his best at times this year, however he was outstanding in the bowling Power Play back in his home town of Perth, claiming 2/12 from his 4 overs. Beer is a real competitor. He loves the niggle and getting involved in the odd stoush, being back at the Furnace would have been right up his alley. Both Hilfenhaus and Boland have been excellent throughout BBL6, and were at it again here with both claiming wickets and Hilfenhaus conceding just 15 runs, while Boland went for 30.
Shaun Marsh Continues to Fire Blanks
Shaun Marsh's woes have been a large part of the Scorchers’ recent struggles with the bat. While they do have a much deeper batting line up than most sides, the Scorchers’ batting Power Plays have been very ordinary in their past four games. Marsh, for all his talent and experience, is the sort of player that seems to experience mind numbing runs of poor form at time. It happened against India in a Test series at home five years ago, when all batsmen were filling their boots, Marsh could not get one off the square. I think mentally Marsh struggles at times, when he is in a rut and confidence really drains out of him. It might only take one of two boundaries to get things going again, however I can't see the Scorchers making an impact in the finals if Marsh doesn't fire soon.
Scorchers Lower Order Handy
If the Scorchers can get their top order batting in order, they have the depth to win games late. They proved that again recovering from a disastrous 4/13 to make 7/134. Surprisingly, Number 6 batsman Andrew Tye did a magnificent job top scoring with 44 from 33 balls. Tye has been listed to come in at Number 10 and 11 in earlier BBL6 games, which shows the huge advantage the Scorchers might have if a final’s game is going to be decided by lower order batting. With Ashton Agar and Tim Bresnan at 8 and 9, the Scorchers were well served as both scored 20s at greater than a run a ball and put on an unbroken 59-run partnership from the final 40 balls. Bresnan is far from a mug, having averaged 26 with the bat in Test Cricket and having six First Class hundreds at an average of 30.
Lurker Bounces Back
One thing we will say about The Lurker is he responds when his back is to the wall. He has refused to lose three games in a row at any time during BBL6. Unfortunately 2017 has been hard going for The Lurker with a few back-to-back losses. However, he was all over this result as the Stars cruised home and hit more 6s than the Scorchers. The Lurker is now 17-9 overall, but only 7-8 in 2017. Can he get back to back wins tonight as the Renegades visit the Strikers?