Masterful Klinger sends Strikers top
Adelaide Strikers 4 for 164 (Klinger 86*) beat Perth Scorchers 9 for 159 (Coulter-Nile 42*, Neser 3-27) by six wickets
A masterful innings from Michael Klinger steered Adelaide Strikers to an important victory over Perth Scorchers. In front of a very vocal home crowd, Klinger produced an innings of supreme quality to guide his side to a tricky target of 160 with six balls to spare.
For the third match in a row Klinger struck the first ball of the Strikers innings for four, a crisp cover drive off Michael Beer, to show how well he is hitting the ball.
But unlike so many match-winning innings in this format, Klinger's innings was not just a display of brutal power hitting. 44 of his unbeaten 86 came in boundaries as he manufactured nine twos on the unusual dimensions of the Adelaide Oval through pinpoint placement and hard running.
Klinger had the perfect foil at the top of the order in Alex Hales. He blasted five fours and a six in his 20-ball 31 to get the chase off to a rollicking start. Klinger was just 9 not out when Hales miscued an on-drive to Simon Katich off Yasir Arafat.
Klinger never panicked nor did he let the scoreboard stall at any point thereafter. Phil Hughes, Johan Botha, and Callum Ferguson scored just 24 runs between them from 28 deliveries through the middle of the innings but Klinger collected 46 from 36 at the other end without really taking a risk.
Nathan Reardon joined Klinger with 44 required from 32 balls. They wisely saw off the spin of Brad Hogg, collecting just three singles and a two from his fourth over, before targeting the fast bowlers.
Klinger crunched Nathan Coulter-Nile over cover for six to release the pressure. Reardon then bombed Alfonso Thomas into the midwicket stands to get the rate down to a run-a-ball. Klinger finished the job with two massive sixes off Arafat in the 19th over to close it out and send the Strikers to the top of the BBL table.
Earlier their bowlers did a terrific job of containing the Scorchers batsmen after Katich won the toss.
The innings got off to a disastrous start when Shaun Marsh took on the deadly arm of Johan Botha at mid-off and was run out in the second over.
A mixture of spin and guile from Botha and Adam Zampa and raw pace from Shaun Tait saw the Scorchers slump to 5 for 96. Michael Neser then delivered a double-wicket maiden in the 16th over to cripple the innings further.
But some late hitting from Nathan Coulter-Nile gave the Scorchers something to defend. His unbeaten 42 from just 25 balls reinforced his immeasurable talent.
He struck three sixes and two fours from Ben Oakley's last two overs. Coulter-Nile also claimed 2 for 28 with the ball to cap off an outstanding all-round display. But it was a lone hand in a losing cause as the finalists from the first two seasons slumped to their second loss of the tournament.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth