Hodge, Hastings make it eight out of eight for the Stars
Melbourne Stars 6 for 161 (Hodge 61, Handscomb 25*) beat Perth Scorchers 9 for 141 (Katich 30, Hastings 3-20) by 20 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A vintage Brad Hodge half-century and a polished bowling display by John Hastings helped an understrength Melbourne Stars stroll through to the semi-finals undefeated after beating Perth Scorchers by 20 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Stars were missing Cameron White, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Clint McKay- all on international duty- but made little work of the Scorchers over the course of 40 overs.
Hodge, standing in a captain, opened the innings with Luke Wright and showed why he is still considered one of the best short-form players in Australia, setting up the team's total of 6 for 161 with a superb 61. He however took his time to get going during the early stages. Hodge was 11 off 11 with just one four, having seen Wright and new signing Mohammed Hafeez fall to the spin of Michael Beer during the powerplay.
But the 39-year-old soon took to Pat Cummins in the sixth over, seizing on the youngster's shorter length and pace, and hammered three boundaries to accelerate the innings. The Stars stalled again when David Hussey ran himself out, but Hodge found good support from Marcus Stoinis. The pair added 60 in just 37 balls, and they were particularly savage on the normally frugal Brad Hogg.
Hodge and Stoinis fell within four balls of each other but Peter Handscomb and John Hastings added a final flourish by taking 38 from the last four overs.
Already chasing a competitive total, Hastings then produced a masterful spell of T20 bowling to further dash the Scorchers' hopes, as his mixture of pace, length, and steep bounce proved difficult to overcome. He accounted for Mitch Marsh, Adam Voges, and Ashton Turner, and conceded just 20 runs from his four overs. The pressure Hastings built with three dots and a wicket in his nine balls also caused the run out of Sam Whiteman-caught short by a slick underarm direct-hit from Wright. Simon Katich provided the only real resistance with a classy 30, but he was left with too much to do.
The Scorchers will now travel to Sydney on February 5 to take on Sydney Sixers in the semi-finals, while the Stars will host Hobart Hurricanes on February 4.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth