Chris Morris emerged as the final-over hero after Sydney Thunder preserved their Big Bash League play-off hopes with a tense win over Perth Scorchers on Sunday.

The Thunder needed to triumph to avoid elimination from top-five contention and held their nerve with the bat after being set 96 from 12 overs for victory following a rain delay at Spotless Stadium.

South African Morris clubbed a six and a four in consecutive deliveries to reward Alex Hales' blistering 47 and get the hosts home with two balls to spare, sealing a seven-wicket victory that takes them above the Scorchers and into fourth.

Miserly bowling from Chris Tremain (1-14) and Daniel Sams (1-16) earlier restricted the Scorchers to 99-4 from 15 overs, their total reduced following the hour-long pause in play.

 

BANCROFT BUILDS COMPETITIVE TOTAL

The Scorchers gave themselves plenty of work to do after winning the toss, electing to bat and then slipping to 64-4 in the 12th over of their truncated innings.

They were indebted to Cameron Bancroft for achieving a reasonable score before the rain arrived, the Australia international managing a valuable unbeaten 35 from 25 balls amid scant contributions elsewhere in the top six.

Liam Livingstone stuttered to Perth's next-best score with 20 off 27 as Tremain, Sams and Morris (1-9) kept the total down.

 

HALES HELPS THUNDER THROUGH THE STORM

Following scores of 85 and 63 in the previous two games, England international Hales continued his fine form in a standout performance.

The 31-year-old made light of a difficult wicket as he breezed to 47 from 27 balls before slicing a catch to cover off Fawad Ahmad (1-15).

The ease with which Hales found the boundary - his innings included four fours and two sixes - came in contrast to the other batsman during a low-scoring affair on a difficult wicket.

 

MORRIS SETTLES THUNDER NERVES

Hales' departure led to the loss of three wickets for 16 runs as the Thunder started to let victory slip from their grasp.

Usman Khawaja (22) was caught out of his crease, Jhye Richardson bowled Alex Ross and the Scorchers suddenly became favourites to escape with the points.

Enter all-rounder Morris. After watching Callum Ferguson take three runs off the first two balls of the decisive 12th over from Matt Kelly, the 32-year-old brought a stunning end to the contest.

He struck a huge six over long-on and then pierced a drive through the off-side to snatch a season-saving win for the Thunder just as it looked to have eluded them.

Adelaide Strikers are sure of a place in the top three of the Big Bash League table after Wes Agar led them to a comfortable 16-run victory over Perth Scorchers on Friday.

Phil Salt's second half-century in his last four games helped the Strikers to 181-5 from their 20 overs, with Jake Weatherald and Travis Head making 35 apiece at Optus Stadium.

That target proved to be well beyond the hosts despite a magnificent knock from Liam Livingstone (79), Agar taking 3-36.

Adelaide are second in the table and will not have to contest the eliminator round of the play-offs. The Scorchers are fourth and can secure a place in the playoffs with a win over Sydney Thunder on Sunday.

 

SALT SHAKES UP SCORCHERS ATTACK

Opener Salt hit seven boundaries and a pair of maximums in his 31-ball 59, putting on 71 for the opening wicket with Weatherald.

Alex Carey and Head kept the scoreboard ticking with a stand of 43 off 28 balls and Jono Wells' contribution ensured the Strikers had plenty to defend.

A dozen of Wells' 23 runs off 16 balls came via him finding the rope, and those boundaries proved valuable as the Scorchers came up short in response.

LIVINGSTONE GIVES SCORCHERS HOPE

The Scorchers' top runs scorer in the BBL this season, Livingstone frequently threatened the rafters as he kept the hosts' hopes alive.

The English opener struck seven sixes in his explosive 54-ball knock and showed the ability to do so in unorthodox fashion, with ramp and hook shots sent sailing for six.

However, when man of the match Wes Agar ended his remarkable innings the prospect of a Scorchers victory went with him as they went from 115-5 to finishing on 165-7.

WES WINS BATTLE OF AGARS

Wes Agar also removed opener Josh Inglis and Scorchers captain Mitchell Marsh as he finished with figures of 3-36, ensuring he got the better of his brother Ashton Agar in the process.

Older sibling Ashton Agar took 2-29, dismissing openers Weatherald and Salt, and was unbeaten on 10 with the bat.

He still ended up on the losing side despite his admirable efforts, but was all smiles as he congratulated his younger brother after the match.

Liam Livingstone smashed 78 from 49 balls as Perth Scorchers romped to an eight-wicket win over Sydney Thunder to move above their opponents into fourth in the Big Bash League.

Led by 85 from Livingstone's fellow Englishman Alex Hales, the Thunder had set the hosts 154 to win on Monday.

But a magnificent opening stand of 136 from Livingstone and Josh Inglis (58) ensured the Scorchers made a strong response to losing back-to-back matches against the Melbourne Stars.

The Scorchers are now one point clear of the Thunder, with both teams in contention to reach the playoffs with two matches each left to play.


HALES ON FIRE BUT LACKING SUPPORT

Hales was out for a duck in his last outing against the Sydney Sixers but after the Thunder won the toss and opted to bat, he delivered in this one.

The former England international hit 10 fours and three sixes in his 59-ball outing, although he was lacking support from his team-mates.

Usman Khawaja (11) and captain Callum Ferguson (4) both fell cheaply, before a 48-run stand between Hales and Arjun Nair (11) was ended by Chris Jordan.

Jordan, who is set to join up with England and be replaced by Morne Morkel for the Scorchers, left on a high with an impressive 3-28, including a slower ball to finally get rid of Hales in the final over.

A steady knock from Alex Ross (22 not out) helped the Thunder to close on 153-5, but it proved to not be enough as they fell to a fifth defeat in seven matches.


INGLIS AND LIVINGSTONE DOMINATE

The Scorchers' victory was inspired by their openers, who hit six maximums between them, three coming off deliveries from Liam Bowe (0-25).

Inglis was hit in the helmet by Gurinder Sandhu (1-33) in the fifth over and, after a lengthy delay, made a brilliant response by smashing the next delivery for six over cow corner. 

After racking up 64 runs in the first five overs, Livingstone and Inglis were in complete control and did not look back.

Brendan Doggett had two horrendous drops off Livingstone but he finally held on to one to remove Inglis off the bowling of Sandhu.

Livingstone, who brought up his fifty off 28 balls, was eventually caught by Ross at deep midwicket as he attempted to hit the winning runs, but any doubt over the match outcome had long since been removed.

Captain Mitchell Marsh (two not out) came into do the honours as the Scorchers eased home with 4.3 overs to spare. 

The Melbourne Stars extended their winning streak to eight matches in the Big Bash League with a 10-run victory over the Perth Scorchers on Saturday.

Hilton Cartwright (58 not out off 56 balls) guided the table-topping Stars to 141-6 from their 20 overs at the MCG.

That appeared a below-par total despite a slow pitch, but Perth struggled as Nic Maddinson (3-24) helped the Stars to a 10th win in 11 games.

The Scorchers finished on 131-9 as their chase fell apart in the second half of their innings, the loss a blow to their play-off chances.

 

CARTWRIGHT IN CONTROL FOR STARS

On a slow wicket, Cartwright ended up playing the key role for the Stars with the bat.

The opener's innings included seven fours, although it looked like his side were at least 20 runs short after electing to bat first.

The Stars were 34-3 in the eighth over when Maddinson fell, but Cartwright's ability to see out the innings after Marcus Stoinis (6) went cheaply proved crucial.

 

MARSH RUN-OUT COSTLY

Perth appeared in control in their chase, reaching 62-2 off nine overs and needing 80 off the final 11.

However, Mitchell Marsh (11) was run out to begin the 10th over and the Scorchers' middle and lower order failed.

MARVELLOUS MADDINSON

Glenn Maxwell's decision to bowl Maddinson late in the Perth innings looked a risky one, but it paid off spectacularly.

Cameron Bancroft (32) was the key man for the Scorchers, but was removed by Maddinson.

The right-hander produced a powerful drive from a low full toss, only for Maddinson to take an incredible return catch.

Maddinson also had Tim David (11) and Matthew Kelly (5) stumped as the Scorchers capitulated late in their chase.

Big Bash League leaders Melbourne Stars romped to the most comfortable of eight-wicket victories over Perth Scorchers to win their seventh straight game.

The Stars have won nine of their 10 matches in this season's competition and sit in a commanding position after Wednesday's straightforward triumph in Perth.

Hosts the Scorchers won the toss and batted first having come into the contest on a three-game winning streak but tumbled to a shambolic 86 all out in only 13.5 overs.

And the Stars encountered few problems in reaching their moderate target, winning with eight overs to spare as the in-form Marcus Stoinis (39 not out) got them home at a canter.

INGLIS GOOD, TEAM-MATES TERRIBLE

Josh Inglis scored 37 runs off 19 balls with two maximums to give Scorchers a swift start but Cameron Bancroft (10) was the only other player to reach double figures.

Perth were moving along nicely at 39-1 after 23 deliveries, Liam Livingstone (4) the only man to have fallen courtesy of a wonderful Stoinis catch off the bowling of Nathan Coulter-Nile.

But Cameron Green (4) was impressively run out by Haris Rauf (1-23) and Inglis' decent knock ended tamely when he picked out Nick Larkin at mid-off.

That reduced the Scorchers to 48-3 and it got worse from there, captain Mitchell Marsh (7) falling after a fine catch from Daniel Worrall off the bowling of Jackson Coleman, who lead the Stars with three wickets for just 16 runs on his first BBL outing this season.

Bancroft fell in another runout and Nepalese spinner Sandeep Lamichhane (2-7) took wickets from consecutive deliveries to help clean up the tail.

STOINIS KEEPS UP MOMENTUM

Stoinis led a comfortable run chase for the Stars, three days on from his stunning record-breaking century against the Sydney Sixers.

Marsh (1-25) held a return catch to remove Hilton Cartwright and Ben Dunk fell to Fawad Ahmed (1-25) but by that point the leaders already had 56 on the board.

Stoinis, who passed 500 runs for the BBL campaign, hit six fours in a controlled 31-ball innings and sealed the victory with a flick behind square to the fence, with Seb Gotch the other unbeaten batsman on 14.

Defeat left the Scorchers fourth, one point clear of the Adelaide Strikers, who have a game in hand, and the Sydney Thunder.

Josh Inglis and Mitchell Marsh put on a century stand with the bat before Jhye Richardson posted T20-best figures as the Perth Scorchers hammered the Hobart Hurricanes by 77 runs in the Big Bash League.

A 46-ball 73 from Inglis and a valuable knock of 40 from Marsh helped the Scorchers to 175-7 at the Bellerive Oval.

The hosts completely wilted in reply, mustering a measly 98 with George Bailey's 36 providing the best resistance.

Richardson took two wickets in his first over to inflict early damage before returning for a couple more late on and the paceman finished with figures of 4-20.

Perth's third straight win sees them climb to third in the standings, while Hobart remain second from bottom.


INGLIS LESSON FOR HURRICANES

The early losses of Liam Livingstone (3) and Sam Whiteman (8) left the Scorchers reeling but Inglis and Marsh piled on the pressure.

Inglis anchored the innings with four fours and as many sixes in an exciting display, while Marsh was looking dangerous before mistiming one off Rogers to Qais Ahmad.

Just seven balls later, Qais tempted Inglis into a slog to long on and a flurry of late wickets stemmed the momentum.


RICHARDSON ROARS

Things started badly for the home side as the excellent Richardson angled one into Matthew Wade (3), who hurried one to deep square leg, before David Miller (0) top-edged the same man to cover.

Bailey and Caleb Jewell (28) put on 41 but from there only Simon Milenko (19) made double figures.

Richardson would return to the attack to account for Thomas Rogers (5) and Nathan Ellis (0) to complete a fine outing. 

Mitchell Marsh produced his best Twenty20 batting display as Perth Scorchers completed a commanding 34-run triumph over Brisbane Heat at Optus Stadium.

Australia international Marsh blasted an unbeaten 93 off just 41 balls to lead the Scorchers to an impressive 213-3 – their highest total in Big Bash League history.

The Perth skipper plundered 44 of his runs off 13 deliveries from Ben Laughlin, who finished with the joint-most expensive figures in a BBL match of 1-60.

Tom Banton gave the Scorchers hope with an entertaining 55, but Brisbane came up short on 179-8 and the Scorchers moved level with them on eight points.

 

MARSH ON THE MARCH

Josh Inglis started strongly with 28 off 14 balls and Marsh ensured the Scorchers' tempo did not drop.

The all-rounder racked up three fours and eight maximums – three of which came in succession off the final over from Laughlin.

That took his unbroken partnership with Cameron Bancroft (41 off 29) to 124 and the hosts to a tally that would always prove difficult for the Heat to chase down.

 

BANTON'S BRILLIANT FAREWELL

Brisbane were in with a chance while Banton was at the crease, though, as the opener another stunning display in his final appearance before being replaced by AB de Villiers.

The 21-year-old, who will join the England squad in South Africa for the three-game ODI series in February, produced a series of stunning shots, the pick of the bunch being a ramp from off stump off Jhye Richardson that landed well beyond the ropes.

Banton brought up his third fifty of the competition off 25 balls with a drive through mid-off, but he was caught and bowled by Fawad Ahmed, who did well to cling on as he trod on the non-striker's stumps.

 

BRISBANE FALL SHORT

Banton's dismissal at the end of the 10th over did not immediately change the complexion of the match for the Heat, who remained into the hunt thanks to the 41-run partnership between Ben Cutting (20) and Joe Burns (37).

However, the run rate slowed and the Scorchers grasped control with the ball, Richardson, Joel Paris and Chris Jordan finishing with two wickets apiece.

Big Bash League champions Melbourne Renegades were unable to defend 175 and clinch their first win of the season as Perth Scorchers claimed a six-wicket success.

Despite Jhye Richardson (3-22) removing Aaron Finch for a golden duck, Sam Harper (73) and Beau Webster (59 not out) had put Melbourne (175-5) in a strong position to finally deliver a maiden victory at the seventh time of asking.

Yet Perth openers Josh Inglis (51) and Liam Livingstone (59) shared a century stand to leave the Scorchers firmly in charge at the halfway point of their chase.

Cameron Bancroft then hit the winning runs as Perth (178-4) got home with an over to spare.

FINCH FLOUNDERS BEFORE MARSH WINS BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS

There was no captain's innings from Finch, who skied a bouncer from Richardson to Cameron Green from his very first ball to leave Melbourne 1-1.

Richardson took the wicket of Australia Test batsman Marcus Harris (14) in the powerplay and the Renegades were struggling at 48-3 as Mitchell Marsh got one over on his brother, Shaun.

The older Marsh was on just two when he swiped his brother to the leg-side fence, where Livingstone was on hand to ensure Mitchell got the family bragging rights.

RENEGADES REBUILD THROUGH HARPER AND WEBSTER

The failings of the Renegades' top order did not lead to a collapse, though, as half-centurions Harper and Webster gave them a good total.

Harper might have been out before he reached 50, but the ball slipped through the normally reliable Chris Jordan's hands on the ropes for a six that brought up the milestone.

He was eventually dismissed when Ashton Agar hung on to another chance in the deep but Webster's unbeaten half-century, which included four sixes and three boundaries, raised the prospects of a first Renegades victory.

 

LIVI DAZZLES DESPITE BOX-CLATTERING DELIVERIES

Perth's opening partnership effectively put paid to Melbourne's hopes, though, as Inglis and Livingstone compiled 102 in the first half of the Scorchers' innings.

Livingstone was able to lead the way despite twice copping painful-looking deliveries between his legs – the 26-year-old letting out audible groans on both occasions – and one of his four maximums travelled a whopping 97 metres.

Inglis upped the ante when his fellow opener chipped Richard Gleeson (3-30) straight to Finch, reaching his half century in 31 deliveries, two balls fewer than Livingstone, before falling caught-and-bowled to Kane Richardson.

Two sixes from Tim David (16) brought the total closer and Bancroft (20 not out) sealed the Scorchers' third win of the season.

D'Arcy Short scored his second Big Bash League century as Hobart Hurricanes beat Perth Scorchers by eight runs at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

Hurricanes opener Short made the most of a number of reprieves to register an unbeaten 70-ball 103 that included three fours and seven maximums, taking his tally for the season to 248.

Despite the Australia international's efforts, the Scorchers still looked capable of chasing down the 181 they needed for victory against Hobart (180-2).

A 75-run partnership between Mitchell Marsh (48) and Cameron Green (33) gave them hope, but Perth (172-8) lost momentum when the former holed out to midwicket off Thomas Rogers and they were consigned to a fourth loss of the season.

 

D'ARCY DOESN'T FALL SHORT

There were plenty of moments when it looked like Short, the leading run scorer in the previous two editions of the BBL, would not get to triple figures.

The opener was dropped on 21 and 68 when Tim David twice showed a lack of judgement in the field, while Jhye Richardson (twice) and Liam Livingstone put down more difficult chances to get him out.

Short needed three runs off the final delivery to bring up his century and he did it by ramping a Chris Jordan yorker onto the ropes for six.

 

BOLAND MAKES HIS MARK

The Hurricanes took 76 runs from the final five overs of their innings, but their total was by no means unreachable for the Scorchers.

However, Perth were in trouble when they slipped to 18-3 after 2.3 overs. Scott Boland (2-29) drew an edge that had Cameron Bancroft caught behind for a duck and on the next ball his fingertip deflection sent Marsh's drive down the ground onto the non-striker's stumps to run out Josh Inglis.

 

MARSH GIVES PERTH HOPE

Marsh and Green steadied the ship for the Scorchers after the early inroads made by the Hurricanes, who saw Riley Meredith (side strain) and David Miller (calf) leave the field for treatment and not return.

McDermott missed a great chance to break their partnership when he failed to hold on after Marsh gloved Rogers down the leg side, but Nathan Ellis trapped Green lbw in the next over.

Marsh went on to rack up five fours and a six before a tremendous catch from Caleb Jewell ended his knock and the Scorchers finished on 172-8.

Perth Scorchers gave their Big Bash League campaign a much-needed shot in the arm on Wednesday with an emphatic 40-run victory over Brisbane Heat in Carrara.

The Scorchers, who propped up the table in a miserable 2018-19 campaign after top-three finishes in each of the previous seven seasons, began 2020 with one win from four matches this term.

However, a total of 149-6 - underpinned by Cameron Bancroft's 50 - proved more than enough to get them home on this occasion as the Heat collapsed to 109 all out.

Spinners Fawad Ahmed and Ashton Agar did the bulk of the damage, returning respective figures of 3-16 and 2-16 from four overs, and an entertaining final-wicket stand of 31 in 3.3 overs between Zahir Khan and Ben Laughlin only made the final analysis more respectable for Brisbane, who now have only one victory from four games themselves.

The Scorchers' second success lifts them to four points and two off the top four.

 

BANCROFT JUDGES CONDITIONS PERFECTLY

On a pitch that appeared two-paced, Josh Inglis (27 off 19) and Mitchell Marsh (26 off 19) briefly sparkled for the Scorchers, the latter striking two huge sixes over the leg side.

However, it was Bancroft who made the most valuable contribution, ticking along at roughly a run a ball for most of his innings before accelerating to reach 50 from 42 balls.

Bancroft fell to the next delivery he faced, but his perfectly paced innings gave Perth a total they ultimately defended with ease as Brisbane's big hitters all failed to make an impact.

 

TON UP FOR LAUGHLIN

Although the Heat were well beaten, Laughlin could take pride from becoming the first bowler to claim 100 BBL wickets.

The veteran seamer came into this contest with 98 scalps and removed Marsh to get to 99 before having Agar caught behind for his milestone wicket in the final over of the Scorchers' innings.

Laughlin also clubbed the first ball he faced for six, before prolonging the contest in an enjoyable partnership with Zahir, who had been the pick of the Heat bowlers with 2-18. The pair were the highest scorers in Brisbane's innings, Zahir making 19 not out and Laughlin adding 17, but it was not enough.

Tom Curran made a dazzling contribution with the bat as Sydney Sixers recorded another emphatic victory over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

Having raced to an eight-wicket triumph when the two sides met in Sydney on December 18, the Sixers again proved far too strong for the Scorchers at Perth Stadium, winning by 48 runs.

After Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques had both made 35, England all-rounder Curran thumped an unbeaten 43 from 21 deliveries - clubbing 24 in the final over alone - to power the visitors to 174-7 despite Chris Jordan returning 3-29.

Jackson Bird and Sean Abbott then claimed three wickets each as the Scorchers were bundled out for 126 in 18.1 overs, having initially slumped to 34-5.

Perth now have just one win from four games and face an uphill battle to finish in the top four, while the Sixers climb from sixth to third, albeit having played more matches than the sides around them.

 

CURRAN TAKES KELLY APART

After 19 overs, the Scorchers could be fairly satisfied with their efforts in the field, even though Hughes had taken advantage of being dropped on nought by a diving Ashton Agar.

However, a competitive score for the Sixers swiftly became an imposing one as Curran clubbed two fours and two sixes, as well as a pair of twos, in a painful final over for Scorchers bowler Matthew Kelly.

Curran finished the innings in style by clearing the long-on boundary and the Sixers entered the interval with significant momentum, while Kelly was left with abysmal figures of 1-50 from four overs.

 

EARLY BREAKTHROUGHS SCUPPER SCORCHERS

The Scorchers' hopes of chasing down 175 were effectively wiped out in 6.1 overs.

Bird struck in each of his first three sets of six, as Liam Livingstone (2), Cameron Bancroft (1) and Cameron Green (1) all flopped.

Josh Inglis also failed, falling to Curran for seven, and home skipper Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Abbott's first ball for 17, leaving his side with far too much to do.

Ashton Turner (28) and Kelly (23 not out) delayed the inevitable but Perth were soundly beaten.

Jake Weatherald's electric 83 and a swift half-century from Alex Carey set the Adelaide Strikers on their way before Rashid Khan played a crucial role in an entertaining 15-run victory over the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

The Strikers made an impressive 198-4 from 18 overs after a rain delay led to a slightly shortened match, with Weatherald putting on 86 for the second wicket with Matt Short (34).

Carey whacked 55 off just 24 balls as the Strikers posted an imposing total at Adelaide Oval in the annual Indigenous celebration match on Monday.

The Scorchers made a flying start in reply, with Josh Inglis (50) and Liam Livingstone (69) putting on 124 for the first wicket.

But the brilliant Rashid (3-40) stopped the Scorchers in their tracks, dismissing both openers and quickly removing Ashton Turner (4) as the runs dried up for the visitors, who were 183-7 after their 18 overs.

The Strikers are consequently up and running for the campaign, while the Scorchers have lost two of their three matches.


WEATHER GRIM, WEATHERALD BRILLIANT

A rain shower early in the Strikers' innings caused a slight delay but it did little to dampen the spirits of Weatherald.

The opener cracked three sixes and 10 fours from 47 deliveries before being brilliantly run out by Jhye Richardson.

He may have fallen short of what would have been a deserved century but Carey dished out more punishment, adding a brisk 55 - including eight fours and a couple of sixes.

 

LIVINGSTONE, INGLIS MAKE STRIKERS SWEAT

Livingstone earned a maiden BBL fifty off just his 21st delivery with a mammoth strike over deep square leg in the eighth over and followed that up with another wallop for six.

He contributed seven sixes and five fours in a bulldozing knock, while Inglis was also flying with a half-century of his own.

The duo helped the Scorchers reach 124 for no loss, but then spinner Rashid had his say.

 

RASHID ROCKS SCORCHERS REPLY

It was not Rashid's best delivery by any means but Livingstone paid the price for an ill-advised front-front slog that resulted only in holing out to Phil Salt in the deep.

From the very next ball, the brilliant Rashid saw the back of Inglis to completely alter the momentum of the game.

Turner fared little better, edging behind off Rashid in the 11th over. From there, only three players added double-digit scores with Wes Agar (2-36) playing his part.

Perth Scorchers recorded their first win in the 2019-20 Big Bash League on Saturday, coming out on top in a high-scoring game with Melbourne Renegades on Saturday.

Mitchell Marsh hammered 56 from 22 balls as he prevailed in the family battle against brother Shaun, who made 55 against his former team in a Renegades run chase that came up short in the final reckoning.

Cameron Bancroft also hit a half-century for Perth to help them post 196-7, though Melbourne were in a promising position when they started the 17th over on 156-3.

However, they lost three wickets in a hurry - including the dismissal of Dan Christian to a stunning catch in the deep by Chris Jordan - as the Scorchers eventually triumphed by 11 runs.

Ben Webster finished up unbeaten on 67 from 37 deliveries yet it was the hosts who were celebrating in the end at Perth Stadium, as they left the reigning champions without a victory two games in to their title defence.

 

KANE STARS BUT RENEGADES STRUGGLE

Perth made a mess of batting first in their opener against Sydney Sixers, when they were bowled out for 131, but prospered this time around after losing the toss.

Liam Livingstone made 29 before falling to Lancashire team-mate Richard Gleeson, while Bancroft's 50 - along with 36 from Ashton Turner - set up Mitchell Marsh for an impressive late onslaught.

The all-rounder launched six sixes as the Melbourne attack toiled bar Kane Richardson, who made sure Perth's final total remained under 200 by returning impressive figures of 4-22.

His economical four-over spell included 11 dot balls, while he also held on to a sharp return catch to dismiss Ashton Agar.

 

SIBLING RIVALRY SPARKS EXCITEMENT

The crowd relished the opportunity to watch the Marsh brothers go up against each other in Melbourne's innings, with Mitchell getting the chance to bowl at his older sibling.

Having decided as captain to bring himself on for the seventh over, Mitchell even had to abort his first attempt at a run-up to increase the tension, leading to a wry smile from the bowler.

However, the head-to-head battle fell a little flat, Shaun managing two singles from the pair of deliveries he faced during Mitchell's two-over spell.

 

'AIR JORDAN' DOES IT AGAIN

Shaun Marsh and Webster's 92-run stand had the Renegades right in the contest, only for the game to turn crucially in the Scorchers' favour in the 18th over.

The excellent Fawad Ahmed (2-22) finished his work with the ball by taking two crucial wickets, starting with the leg-spinner tempting Marsh to hit straight to Jordan in the deep.

However, while that chance was straightforward, Jordan produced a sensational grab later in the same over to send back Christian. Having made ground to his right from his position at long on, the England international produced a full-length dive - with both feet off the ground - to cling on to the opportunity.

Josh Philippe played a starring role with an unbeaten 81 from 44 balls as Sydney Sixers got their Big Bash League campaign off to a superb start with an eight-wicket thrashing of last year's bottom side, Perth Scorchers.

Champions in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the Scorchers endured a miserable campaign last term, winning just four games as they picked up the wooden spoon.

There was more pain for Perth at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday as they were limited to 131 all out after losing the toss and Philippe hurried the Sixers to victory with five overs to spare.

Tom Curran (3-32), Ben Dwarshuis (2-15) and Ben Manenti (2-21) were chiefly responsible for keeping Perth to a score that looked well below par, while wicketkeeper Philippe produced an eye-catching piece of work to stump Cameron Bancroft off a Steve O'Keefe wide.

If the Sixers were strong favourites at the change of innings, their victory soon became inevitable as Philippe took the Scorchers attack apart, dominating a first-wicket partnership of 73 in 7.4 overs with Daniel Hughes (22)

Hughes and James Vince (13) both fell to Chris Jordan, who was comfortably the pick of the visiting attack with 2-13 from three overs, but it mattered little as Philippe finished with 11 fours and three sixes to his name, his last maximum over deep midwicket providing a fitting end to the contest.

 

DISMAL START SETS TONE FOR SCORCHERS

Virtually nothing went right for Perth from the moment opener Liam Livingstone was given lbw to Dwarshuis for a duck in the first over, despite the ball pitching outside leg stump.

Philippe's smart stumping sent Bancroft packing two deliveries later and, although Josh Inglis thumped four eye-catching boundaries, two further wickets in successive overs left the Scorchers 29-4. 

Skipper Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green made 32 and 36 respectively, but it was nowhere near enough and an end-of-innings collapse followed. 

 

FAWAD'S CAMEO TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

There was a glimmer of hope for Perth when number 11 Fawad Ahmed responded to being dropped at the end of the 19th over by clattering two sixes and a four off Curran in the innings' final set of six.

Yet a total of 131 was soon shown to be woefully inadequate as Philippe took centre stage. 

 

PHILIPPE PROVIDES PERFECT FINISH

Having smashed Perth bowlers to all parts and enjoyed particular success over cover, Philippe finished the match in style.

A mighty blow over midwicket off Jhye Richardson saw the ball end up on the roof of the Ladies Pavilion and summed up the Sixers' dominance of the contest.

 

Steve Smith will make a long-awaited Big Bash League return and AB de Villiers should ignite the Brisbane Heat in a shortened tournament with a new finals format.

Smith, the best Test batsman in the world, will feature in the competition for the first time since 2014 after rejoining the Sydney Sixers.

Maverick former South Africa batsman De Villiers will make his BBL debut for a Heat side who have been installed as bookmakers' favourites, with former Australia boss Darren Lehmann returning as head coach.

The Melbourne Renegades are expected to mount a strong challenge to retain a title they won in February with a derby defeat of Melbourne Stars, who have will Dale Steyn in their attack for six matches.

There will also be a welcome return for Glenn Maxwell, back in action for the Stars after taking a break to deal with personal mental health issues.

Here, we examine teams and players to look out for and explain changes to the schedule for the 2019-20 edition, which gets under way when the Heat face the Thunder at The Gabba on Tuesday.

 

FINALS REVAMP PART OF SCHEDULE CHANGE

There were calls for change due to dwindling crowds in an eighth edition of the tournament that dragged on too long.

Cricket Australia has taken note of criticism, reducing the length of the competition from 54 to 42 days and revamping the finals format.

There will be 15 days with two matches played in order to cut the length of the BBL.

Five of the eight teams will reach the finals rather than four, with the sides in first and second place at the end of the regular season having two chances to reach the final.

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR SMITH

Sixers fans have had to wait a long time to see Smith in their side and they will have to hope his arrival does not come when their title chances are over.

The former Australia captain, part of the Sixers squad that won the inaugural Big Bash in January 2012, will not be available until the back end of the competition due to Australia commitments.

Josh Hazlewood is also scheduled to join the Sixers after featuring for Australia following the Test series against New Zealand and ODIs in India, with the hope he will be fully fit after suffering a hamstring injury in the first Test against the Black Caps.

 

MARSH AND NEW COACH CAN HELP RENEGADES KLING ON TO TITLE

Michael Klinger took over as Renegades coach after Andrew McDonald was appointed Australia assistant coach in October.

McDonald will be a hard act to follow, but the addition of batsman Shaun Marsh is a big coup for the defending champions.

Disciplined bowling was key to their maiden BBL triumph and they have managed to retain left-arm seamer Harry Gurney, while big things will be expected of Kane Richardson once again.

 

HEAT SHOULD WARM TO THE TASK UNDER LEHMANN

Brisbane handed Lehmann his first role coaching role since he quit as Australia boss following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in March 2018. Lehmann was cleared of involvement in that ploy.

Lehmann, who replaces Daniel Vettori, oversaw the Heat's 2012-13 Big Bash title success and it would be no surprise if he celebrates a repeat.

De Villiers will make his debut for Brisbane, while explosive England batsman Tom Banton, Ben Laughlin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan are also exciting additions.

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