Perth Scorchers have completed a stunning recovery from bottom to top of the Big Bash League table, after defeating Melbourne Stars in a bonus-point victory at the MCG last night.
The Scorchers’ eighth win from their past nine games lifted them above Sydney Sixers on the ladder thanks to net run rate, though the Sixers have two games remaining.
Perth will face Brisbane Heat at Adelaide Oval on Australia Day to round out their regular season.
If the red-hot Scorchers finish in the top two they will play in The Qualifier next Saturday for the right to go straight into a home decider, which will be held the following Saturday.
Even if Perth, who were winless and in last position after four games, finish third or fourth they will earn the right to host a final at Optus Stadium.
The Scorchers had a host of contributors as th=ey won by 11 runs, also picking up the Bash Boost point for leading at the 10-over mark.
Despite putting down a couple of simple catches in the field, they held the home team to 6-171 in pursuit of the victory target of 183.
Nick Larkin (70 off 44) top-scored in the Stars’ run chase but lacked support as Jason Behrendorff (1-19) and Andrew Tye (2-28) stood up with the ball.
Behrendorff bowled a wicket maiden in the fourth over when he claimed the big scalp of muscular opener Marcus Stoinis (14 off 11 balls).
When Fawad Ahmed struck with his first ball to remove Glenn Maxwell for a duck, the Stars had slumped to 3-42 in the eighth over and were facing an uphill battle.
Key Stars bowlers Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-49) and Adam Zampa (1-48) gave up nearly 100 runs between them as the Scorchers posted another formidable total by reaching 4-182.
It was an even batting performance, with opener Jason Roy’s confident 54 off 32 balls setting the tone before Colin Munro (46 not out off 30) and Josh Inglis (26 off 16) combined to regain momentum.
The Stars gambled with a power play introduction for Zampa, who was welcomed to the crease with two fours and a six from his first three balls from Roy.
Roy and Liam Livingstone took 19 from Zampa’s first over, the third of the innings, and raced to 0-42 from a four-over new ball power play that featured three overs of spin.
The opening partnership was halted at 83 when a less than fluent Livingstone (24 off 29 balls) chipped Zahir Khan into the deep in the 10th over.
The innings began changing complexion when Roy was undone by a slower ball from Coulter-Nile the next over, falling to a well-judged Maxwell catch.
The double blow put the brakes on Perth’s run rate, which slipped below eight an over before Munro and Inglis called on the Power Surge after 14 overs.
The pair took 28 runs from a successful Power Surge to hit the accelerator, each hitting a frustrated Coulter-Nile for six as they took 20 from his over with the field up.