Perth Scorchers 4 for 170 (Klinger 83, Turner 45, Sams 2-25) beat Sydney Sixers 4 for 167 (Silk 45, Willey 2-30) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Michael Klinger‘s composure ensured Perth Scorchers broke fresh ground with the highest successful chase in their history, to consign the Sydney Sixers to a fourth consecutive defeat and vault over Adelaide Strikers to the top of the Big Bash League table. The hosts had appeared to be in considerable trouble when they staggered to 2 for 35 after the Powerplay following the Sixers’ total of 167, but Klinger refused to panic, and took the Scorchers home with help from Ashton Turner and a cameo from the debutant Tim David.
The Sixers made a decent fist of their innings after being sent in, as the makeshift opener Peter Nevill, Jordan Silk and Sam Billings were particularly effective. But there was grim news for Steve O’Keefe when he suffered a suspected serious leg injury in the field, robbing the captain Johan Botha of one of his most economical options. The Sixers are now on the brink of an early elimination from the tournament.
Daniel Hughes has accompanied Jason Roy to the middle in both the Sixers’ matches so far, but a muscle strain in the warm-ups meant that the left-hander was ruled out and replaced at the top by Peter Nevill. Not a noted power hitter, Nevill instead likes to use the pace on the ball, and another swift WACA surface gave him his chance.
Helpful, too, was Jhye Richardson, who offered up some generous width early in his spell, including one no ball that Nevill cut cleanly to the backward point boundary. The subsequent free hit was fuller and sliced through the same region to the boundary. Altogether, Nevill would get five fours in an innings that covered not only for Hughes but also for Roy’s exit to a contentious lbw decision – the ball appeared to have pitched outside leg stump before rapping his front leg.
The Scorchers pride themselves on possessing a mean bowling and fielding unit, one that is very capable of taking wickets through economy, but also through penetration. This night, however, the Sixers were able to gain a foothold in the match by establishing partnerships throughout their innings. Once Nic Maddinson followed Nevill back to the pavilion for another handy score, Silk and Billings were able to pull together a stand of 56 in 39 deliveries, before Silk and Ben Dwarshuis hustled 30 more off the final 13 balls of the innings.
A curious subplot of the Scorchers’ approach was the captain Adam Voges’ choice to bowl himself alongside James Muirhead to split the duties of the hosts’ fifth bowler. Muirhead has been on a rocky journey since representing Australia in 2014, and started this season in the St Kilda second-grade team in Melbourne Premier cricket. Muirhead, however, bowled well in his two overs at the WACA Ground but a hamstring strain forced Voges to bowl the remaining two. The Sixers captain conceded 23 off those 12 balls, but Muirhead can expect a full four-over stint next time out.
Injury upsets Sixers
To say O’Keefe has an benighted record with injury would be to understate his misfortune over the years, never more so than the hamstring strain he suffered midway through the Kandy Test against Sri Lanka in 2016 when he had looked like Australia’s most dangerous bowler. He had bowled three tidy overs for 20 runs in Perth when he slipped at short fine leg, felt a “crack” and immediately sought treatment in the dressing rooms, never to return. A fracture is suspected.
The injury gave the Sixers captain Botha a difficult choice in terms of finding the extra over, and his choice of a like-for-like option in the shape of Maddinson’s occasional left-arm spinners was to be punished for 14 runs by Turner and Klinger. Botha himself elected to only bowl one over for the night, as Klinger steadily carried the game away from the visitors.
Klinger comes through
It had been a matter of serious doubt whether Klinger would play any part at all for the Scorchers this season after finding out that his wife, Cindy, had been diagnosed with cancer. But he has so far been available for all fixtures and demonstrated a rare level of composure and skill to guide the Scorchers’ chase of a larger total than what they have commonly needed to.
Starting steadily, Klinger rolled into gear with a pair of boundaries through the off side from the bowling of Dwarshuis in the fourth over of the chase, but did not panic as the Scorchers managed only a modest 2 for 35 from the Powerplay. Showcasing the skills built over nearly 20 years in first-class ranks, he scored freely around the ground, and with a hat-trick of boundaries from Sean Abbott in the 18th over, Klinger appeared to have settled the matter.
Though Klinger was to be dismissed in the penultimate over – when trying to hoist Daniel Sams into the crowd beyond wide long-on – Klinger was able to watch as Voges and the debutant David eked out the winning runs – none more vital than David’s straight six from Sams’ final delivery when 15 runs were still required from seven. When Abbott started the final over with five wides, the Scorchers were all but home, and the Sixers all but out of contention. Voges then finished it off with a top-edged six over Nevill to move back to first.