Perth have found a way to avoid another middle-order batting collapse – try not to let them bat.
The prolific opening combination of Josh Inglis and Liam Livingstone guided the Scorchers to an eight-wicket thrashing of Sydney Thunder at Optus Stadium tonight, and a step closer to returning to Big Bash League finals.
The England-born pair’s 136-run stand, their third century performance of the tournament, helped reeled in the visitors’ sub-par total of 5-153 with 27 balls to spare, with Adam Voges’ men jumping to fourth on the ladder.
The Scorchers bowling attack, led by English import Chris Jordan (3-28 off four overs), did a terrific job for the second game in row, but this time the batters didn’t let them down.
Perth will play back-to-back home games for the first time in the tournament, with their next match against Adelaide on Friday night before a return bout against the Thunder at Sydney Showground on Sunday.
They regain all-rounders Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner from One-Day International duties in India, while towering South African speedster Morne Morkel will replace Jordan for the final regular-season match and beyond.
Brendan Doggett helped man-of-the-match Livingstone (78 off 49 balls) to his highest BBL score, dropping him three times, on 32, 57 and 59.
He finally held onto one to get rid of the consistent Inglis (58 off 41), who posted his fourth half-century, but the damage was already done with No.3 Kurtis Patterson (two not out) coming in with just 18 needed to snap a two-game losing run.
“We had a point to prove after a poor week last week,” Inglis told Channel 7.
“We wanted to win for the fans because we haven’t been that good at home.”
Thunder captain Callum Ferguson had no answers for the carnage, using five bowlers during the power play as the BBL09’s best opening pair, who have combined for 483 runs, fell one shy of breaking the franchise’s best six-over effort of 0-76.
Four of the six bowlers used went for 10-plus runs at over, with Gurinder Sandhu and Chris Morris the only wicket-takers.
The first innings was a tale of two Englishman as Alex Hales (85 off 59 balls) rode his luck to post his highest score of the season, while Jordan was Perth’s best bowler.
A dubious not out LBW decision off Jhye Richardson second ball of the innings saved Hales from a second straight golden duck, despite ball tracking showing it clipping the bails.
The hard-hitting opener hit more than three quarters of the visitors’ boundaries (14 of 17), including all three sixes, to anchor the innings others struggled around him.
Jordan, in his second last match in orange before he leaves for national limited-overs duties against South Africa, turned the game with a double-breakthrough in the 12th over, with youngster Arjun Nair (11) and Daniel Sams (one) out in the space of four balls.
Sams, who is averaging 3.77 from 11 hits this tournament, avoided his fifth duck but was out next ball, with Inglis taking his second terrific catch behind the stumps.
Hales lived dangerously early, with two early boundaries through the slips and another from a French cut, before exploding off part-time spinner Livingstone, whose only over was punished for 14.
He then combined with BBL journeyman Alex Ross (22 not out) for a valuable 64-run fifth-wicket stand before becoming Jordan’s third victim fourth-last ball of the innings.
Skipper Mitch Marsh’s surprise move to bowl himself during the power play paid immediate dividends, removing Usman Khawaja for 11 with his first ball.
Young all-rounder Arjun Nair (11) didn’t make the most of his promotion to number four, part of a double breakthrough from Jordan in the 12th over, with Daniel Sams’ (one) struggles with the bat continuing.