Striking Hughes burns Scorchers
Adelaide Strikers 4 for 164 (Hughes 74) beat Perth Scorchers 6 for 162 (Voges 58, Marsh 57) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Australian selectors talk of PONIs - Players of National Interest. Phillip Hughes has been a PONI for some time but is widely regarded as a Test specialist. But he proved, once again, his limited-overs potential with a match-winning 74 from 48 deliveries to guide the Strikers home in a nail-biting chase.
Set 163, the Strikers had recent history against them, as only two of the last 12 matches at the WACA had been won by the chasing team, and neither had run down more than 157.
Hughes started slowly before back-to-back boundaries in the fifth over, one a streaky edge, the other a cracking trademark cut, got his strike-rate above 100. He and Michael Klinger put on 39 before Klinger fell to Joe Mennie.
The introduction of Brad Hogg in the eighth over saw Hughes accelerate further. He raced to 50 off 35 balls and continued to confound Scorchers captain, Simon Katich, and keep the chase on track.
Hughes abstained from last year's BBL to concentrate on rebuilding his technique after being dropped from Australia's Test XI. But his T20 record makes for impressive reading. He now has 1003 runs from 26 matches, with an average of 52.79 and a strike-rate near 120. He led the run tally during the domestic T20 tournament in England earlier this year and is also averaging 80 in the Ryobi Cup this season.
Hogg eventually got Hughes in the 15th over, with a mistimed heave that carried to long-off, but the damage was done.
Nathan Reardon then picked up where Hughes left off by crushing 42 from 26 balls, including three enormous blows into the crowd. Reardon's striking talent has never been fully appreciated and hence he's playing for his third T20 side in Australia. But he came up with the goods here to leave the Strikers needing just 9 off 11 balls.
Theo Doropoulos and Johan Botha had some nervy moments, but they guided Adelaide through with four balls to spare.
Earlier, Katich won the toss and had no hesitation in batting. Shaun Marsh showed hesitation and apprehension on his Scorchers return after his off-field dramas at the Champions League but he battled to 28 off 30 before his class shone through. Marsh made 57 from 45 balls and was involved in a partnership worth 82 with Adam Voges. The latter made a composed 58 to guide the Scorchers to a competitive but underwhelming total of 6 for 162.
The craft and guile of two world-renowned T20 spinners in Johan Botha and Saeed Ajmal meant the Scorchers fell short of a winning total. Their combined eight overs cost just 45 runs and also yielded the all-important wicket of Marsh.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth