Scorchers prevail in last-ball thriller to top points table

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Michael Klinger struck six boundaries and two sixes to set-up Perth Scorchers’ chase © Getty

Michael Klinger hit a 55-ball 72, laced with six fours and two sixes, Mitchell Marsh came up with a 22-ball 34, but it was Ashton Agar who turned out to be an unlikely hero for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League (BBL) 2016-17 encounter against Melbourne Renegades at the Docklands Stadium on Thursday (December 29). Needing 149 for victory, Scorchers appeared cruising at one stage before Renegades came up with a spirited fightback late in the game. However, a calm Agar held his nerve, scoring a six off the final delivery to help Scorchers to the top of the points table with a four-wicket victory.

Scorchers began in a watchful manner in the chase as they managed only six runs in the first two overs, with Tom Cooper and Chris Tremain bowling disciplined lines. A 12-run over from Nathan Rimmington, which included a boundary apiece for Klinger and Shaun Marsh, helped the Scorchers openers up the ante. Apart from the boundary, Shaun Marsh did not look at his best and consumed a few dot deliveries in the process, but Klinger eased the pressure with two consecutive fours off Dwayne Bravo in the fifth over.

Sunil Narine ended Shaun Marsh’s struggle, when he hit one straight to Tremain at square-leg to depart for a 14-ball 7. The dismissal brought Ian Bell to the crease and he assisted Klinger in building a partnership. Although the required rate crossed eight an over as a few quiet overs meant that Scorchers could only manage 63 in the first 10. Tremain, who had finished his quota till then, conceded only 19 runs. However, in what came as a setback for Renegades, Bravo was taken off the field on a stretcher after he injured his hamstring while trying to save a boundary.

Meanwhile, the second wicket partnership, worth 36 runs, came to an end when Bell was run out for 22 after being called for a non-existent single by Klinger. Needing to get a move on, with the required rate crossing nine, Mitchell Marsh provided the impetus to the chase when he hit two successive fours off Rimmington in the 14th over while Klinger brought up a 43-ball fifty with a six off Brad Hogg to bring down the equation to 42 off 30.

The latter part of the chase was a see-saw battle as Narine tightened the screws with a seven-run over but Rimmington let the advantage slip, conceding 16 runs in the 17th over, which included a four and a six off successive deliveries by Klinger. Narine rekindled Renegades’ hopes by dismissing Klinger, who offered a return catch after getting a leading edge. It was an excellent over from Narine, who conceded only three runs apart from picking up the crucial wicket of Klinger. Bravo’s absence meant that skipper Aaron Finch had to persist with Rimmington, who bowled a better over, dismissing Ashton Turner and giving away only seven.

With nine needed off the final over, Finch decided to bring himself on and it turned out to be a master-stroke, almost. He started by giving away a couple of runs to Mitchell Marsh. However, he picked up the big wicket the very next delivery as Mitchell Marsh failed to clear Cooper at long-on, and then effected a direct hit to send back Adam Voges, leaving Scorchers needing seven off the last three. With the next two deliveries yielding four runs, Agar was on strike for the final delivery with Scorchers needing three. A full toss though made things easier for Agar, who went over wide mid-on and cleared the fence as Scorchers got over the line in a tense finish.

Earlier, David Willey kept the openers in check in the opening over, but Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris made up for it with a flurry of boundaries in the overs to follow to get Renegades off to a positive start after being asked to bat. Mitchell Johnson was hit for two consecutive boundaries by Finch, Harris meted the same treatment to Willey before Finch took the attack to Mitchell Marsh, hitting him for a four and a six, as Renegades raced away in the powerplay overs.

The partnership, which was going strong, came to an abrupt end when Finch (24) failed to keep a drive down and picked Voges at extra cover to give Andrew Tye the first wicket of the match. Harris, undeterred by the dismissal, clobbered a couple of boundaries off Turner as Renegades reached 52 at the end of the first six overs. Turner though had the last laugh a couple of overs later as Harris (25) could not get the right timing when he tried to execute a slog-sweep, handing a catch to Tye at deep mid-wicket.

The wickets slowed the proceedings down a touch, but not too long as Cameron White provided the thrust to the innings and was supported well by Callum Ferguson, with whom he added 50 runs for the third wicket to power Renegades past 100 in the 13th over. White’s innings, however, came to an end in the following over when he skied a Turner delivery to Willey at deep mid-wicket to head back for a 29-ball 37. Ferguson (28), who scored two consecutive boundaries off Mitchell Marsh in the next over, became the fourth to depart, with Turner taking another catch at deep mid-wicket.

At the end of the 16th over, Renegades were 123 for 4 and were still looking good to post a total close to 160. However, Johnson came up with a tight over, conceding only five runs while picking up the wicket of Cooper, while Tye also gave away only five in the 18th over to keep Renegades in check. Willey then bowled a superb over in the death, conceding only two runs in the 19th over while dismissing Peter Nevill and Narine. Bravo (23) managed 12 off the final over off Tye to propel Renegades close to the 150 mark, which however, proved to be insufficient in the end.

Brief scores: Melbourne Renegades 148/8 in 20 overs (Cameron White 37, Callum Ferguson 28; David Willey 2-15, Ashton Turner 2-25) lost to Perth Scorchers 152/6 in 20 overs (Michael Klinger 72, Mitchell Marsh 34; Sunil Narine 2-20) by 4 wickets.

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