Perth Scorchers rolled back the years to win their fifth game on the bounce, trouncing Hobart Hurricanes by nine wickets at Optus Stadium to jump to third in the BBL table. A superb bowling performance restricted the Hurricanes to 139, with Jhye Richardson, AJ Tye and Fawad Ahmed all impressing, before a belligerent 123-run stand between Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone helped them home with 22 balls to spare.
The Scorchers have missed out on the finals for two years in a row following a sustained period of dominance, but are beginning to resemble their former selves. They have won all four of their home games, conceding totals of 89, 97 and 168 before tonight, with Richardson leading an impressive pace attack, while their batting line-up is beginning to click.
Their cruise to victory came in the absence of Colin Munro due to a quad injury, though he is expected to re-join the squad shortly, and with the possibility of Ashton Agar returning to fitness in time for the knockout stage, the Scorchers are quickly becoming the team to beat.
The one blemish for the Scorchers came in the form of an injury to Mitchell Marsh, who went off with a side injury three balls into his spell and was replaced by X-factor sub Kurtis Patterson. Adam Voges, their head coach, told Channel 7 that it was a “precautionary measure” and that he anticipated Marsh would be available again soon, even if only as a specialist batsman.
Scorchers’ fiery start
The competition’s leading run-scorer and leading wicket-taker came up against one another from the start after the Hurricanes chose to bat, but Ben McDermott was no match for the irresistible Richardson.
Touching 90mph/145kph, Richardson conceded only two runs from his opening two-over burst, with his skiddy lengths proving impossible to get away. Ashton Turner posted attacking fields, hunting early wickets with two slips in place, and Richardson duly delivered. He made the breakthrough with a perfect length ball on a fourth-stump line to McDermott, whose attempted punch away from his body only managed to divert the ball onto his off stump via the inside edge.
Dawid Malan has fond memories of Perth, where he made his only Test hundred in 2017, but chipped to mid-on for a six-ball duck. With D’Arcy Short out of nick and Peter Handscomb bowled by a Fawad Ahmed googly, the Hurricanes limped to 3 for 50 at the halfway stage – the joint-lowest 10-over total of the season.
Hurricanes surge early
The Hurricanes became only the third team this season to use the Power Surge at the earliest possible opportunity, taking it in the 11th and 12th overs. Tye’s over ended with three consecutive boundaries – two off Short’s bat, one via his pad – and Richardson was taken for two himself as 24 runs came from the two Surge overs.
With Marsh off the field, Colin Ingram decided to target Aaron Hardie, who would have to bowl at least three overs in the innings, but he skewed a catch to Patterson running back at extra cover to leave the Hurricanes four down after 14 overs.
Ahmed’s tight figures were dented by two sixes from Tim David in his final over, but Short chipped to extra cover to fall for a scratchy 54 off 47 balls. Despite a late flourish between David and debutant Mitch Owen, the Hurricanes’ total of 139 always looked a long way short.
Roy, Livingstone finally fire
Roy and Livingstone have struggled for form since they came out of quarantine after Christmas, with neither reaching fifty in their first five innings of the season, and both took their time to get set as they struggled for timing early on in the chase. Livingstone was given a life first ball when Short put down a straightforward chance at backward point, but his ramped six off Scott Boland in the fourth over seemed to kick the Scorchers into gear.
Roy has often struggled against wristspin in T20 cricket, but treated Short and Sandeep Lamichhane with disdain on a true pitch. He reverse-swept Lamichanne’s fourth ball for four, before clubbing Short for six over long-on and continuing to score freely as the Scorchers cruised towards their target.
Livingstone had eked out 18 off 21 balls when he decided to target Owen’s first over as a BBL player, top-edging him over the keeper for four before spanking two sixes to take 18 from the ninth over. Roy added three consecutive fours off Short in the 10th, taking them to 86 at the halfway mark. He brought up his half-century off 35 balls, and Livingstone reached a 37-ball fifty in the 14th.
Livingstone holed out to deep square leg off Boland with 17 required, but Roy sealed the deal, clubbing four through midwicket before Lamichhane put down a half-chance at long leg to allow them through for the winning runs.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98
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