The Perth Scorchers have stamped themselves as the undisputed Big Bash League (BBL) powerhouse after claiming their third title with a crushing nine-wicket victory over the Sydney Sixers at the WACA in Perth on Saturday (January 28).
In their fifth final from six BBL editions, the Scorchers were almost flawless throughout reaching the victory target of 142 with 25 balls to spare with Scorchers captain Michael Klinger (71 not out from 49 balls) and Ian Bell (31 not out from 25) spearheading them to BBL glory.
Showcasing a fearless approach manifesting from their inspirational coach Justin Langer, the Scorchers came out blazing through opener Sam Whiteman (41 from 21), who took the long handle to eviscerate Australian Test bowler Jackson Bird in the second over plundering a trio of boundaries and a six.
After three overs, the Scorchers raced away to 36 with Whiteman having scored 32 of them and the run rate continued to hover around 10 an over as the runs flowed furiously off the bat. Klinger started more sedately but eventually found his groove using his feet nicely against offspinner Nathan Lyon, who was still hearing plenty of “Garry” chants from the crowd although with an undercurrent of mockery.
Whiteman’s aggression eventually brought his undoing when he was stumped charging Lyon but the damage had been done and a platform laid with the Scorchers sitting pretty at 71 for 1 in the eighth over. Unlike in the WBBL final, there would no collapse from the Scorchers with Klinger, who hit five sixes, putting his foot down on the pedal to notch a 36-ball 50. He was aided by Bell, who punished the dispirited Sixers bowling as the Scorchers chased the total down with absolute ease.
Earlier, after the Scorchers won the toss and elected to bowl, the Sixers’ vaunted top-order were scythed by a Scorchers team fuelled, once again, by Johnson who had a packed WACA crowd of 21,832 rocking in the stands. Johnson starred with the miserly figures of 1 for 13 from four overs and was complemented by youngster Jhye Richardson (3 for 30) as the Sixers suffered two three-wicket collapses during a stuttering innings.
Following on from his astonishing 3 for 3 from four overs in the semifinal against the Melbourne Stars, Johnson continually hit the money during a torrid early spell. Juxtaposing Johnson’s fire and brimstone, part-time spinner Ashton Turner was a surprise choice at the other end but the gamble paid immediate dividends when he dismissed Sixers opener Daniel Hughes in the second over.
Amid sweltering conditions in Perth, the Sixers couldn’t handle the Scorchers’ suffocating intensity with the mercurial Nic Maddinson (1) run out through a terrific throw by Richardson in the deep. The Sixers’ chances of posting a hefty total looked in serious peril when Johnson was rewarded for his stellar bowling with the scalp of Michael Lumb to leave the visitors lurching at 17 for 3.
The Sixers briefly recovered through veterans Moises Henriques (21) and Brad Haddin (38 from 25 balls) with the pair notching an important 47-run partnership. Utilising his wealth of experience, Haddin impressively counterattacked smashing 12 runs off the seventh over to steer the Sixers back on track albeit briefly.
Turning back the clock, Haddin boldly took the role of aggressor smashing consecutive straight sixes off spinner Ashton Agar, as Henriques played second fiddle. However, the rearguard partnership came to an end when Haddin was out attempting to pull Richardson, who shortly after picked up the key wicket of Henriques in similar fashion. There was much relief for the Scorchers to see the back of Henriques, who had scored a pair of 70s during two previous BBL finals against them.
Richardson continued to be an unexpected hero claiming the scalp of Jordan Silk as the Sixers continued to unravel against the extra bounce. Johan Botha (32 from 25 balls) swung several lusty blows at the death to ensure the Sixers ended with a competitive total of 141 for 9 but it proved nowhere near enough.
For the second time in three seasons, the Sixers endured the ignominy of watching the Scorchers celebrate lifting the BBL trophy.
Brief scores: Sydney Sixers 141/9 in 20 overs (Brad Haddin 38, Johan Botha 32; Jhye Richardson 3-30, Tim Bresnan 3-40) lost to Perth Scorchers 144/1 in 15.5 overs (Sam Whiteman 41, Michael Klinger 71*, Ian Bell 31) by nine wickets.