Hodge, tail seal last-over win for Strikers
Adelaide Strikers 9 for 147 (Hodge 42, Behrendorff 4-22) beat Perth Scorchers 7 for 146 (Klinger 49, Richardson 3-31) by one wicket
Two excellent bowling performances and one brutal six produced the first close finish of this Big Bash League season as the Adelaide Strikers clambered over the line to beat the Perth Scorchers by one wicket at the WACA.
Chasing 147 and with seven required off three balls with just one wicket in hand, 22-year-old legspinner Adam Zampa struck a six over midwicket off Yasir Arafat before taking a single off the next ball to haul the Strikers to their second consecutive victory and end the Scorchers' five-match unbeaten run at home. Just two balls before becoming the hero for the Strikers, Zampa was very much the villain having wildly swung and missed at the first two balls of the final over before running out Kane Richardson, desperately trying to bring him on strike.
Arafat's final over was typically accurate with the first four balls being inswinging yorkers, but his accuracy was perhaps his downfall with Zampa confident of the ball's length, able to swing hard and fast through the line to hit the fourth for the match-winning six.
The Scorchers bowled superbly throughout the Strikers chase, taking wickets at regular intervals meaning no partnership managed more than 27 and the run rate never exceeded 7.80 after the first over.
The Strikers' innings pivoted in the 13th over, when after a steady start with just 55 required off 48 balls, seven wickets in hand and Brad Hodge and Kieron Pollard at the crease, Jason Behrendorff punctured the Strikers' momentum with two wickets in an over, removing Pollard and then Johan Botha. Behrendorff was the standout bowler for the Scorchers finishing with 4 for 22 from his four overs. After the 13th over the required run rate climbed steadily, reaching 8.33 at one point.
Hodge marshalled the subsequent tense overs nicely, scoring 42 off 36, but when he was dismissed with just 13 balls remaining, it seemed as if the Strikers would fall just short. However, a huge six off the last ball of the 18th over from Richardson and some energetic running in a brilliant over bowled by Andrew Tye brought the Strikers back into contention.
Earlier on, the Scorchers, who elected to bat, gave opportunities to five new signings - Michael Carberry, Marcus Harris, Michael Klinger, James Muirhead and Tye in the absence of Simon Katich (retired), Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh and Brad Hogg (injured). And the Strikers made one change to their side, bringing in Trent Lawford for the injured Shaun Tait.
Scorchers' total of 7 for 147 was defined by the effort of Carberry, who struggled for timing, fluency and rhythm. He scored just 27 from 35 deliveries, eating up plenty of balls and swallowing momentum, casting a long shadow over the overs that preceded his dismissal. He was evidently anxious when once he swung so hard he let go of his bat which traveled further than many of his shots.
The Scorchers exited the Powerplay at 0 for 40 and lost their first wicket to the first ball of the seventh over, Marcus Harris falling for a cameo of 26 from 19 balls to a superb low catch taken by Alex Ross at long-off. The Strikers bowled really well, yet again, and kept the Scorchers to just 1 for 65 after 10 overs. Carberry finally got himself out in the 13th over and the Scorchers were stagnating at 2 for 84, with just 45 deliveries remaining.
Klinger, who made the move from Adelaide to Perth in the off season, was the lone flag-bearer for the Scorchers. His 33-ball 49 elevated his team's run rate as wickets fell around him. Outside the top three, no batsman made more than 12 for the Scorchers.
Richardson's figures suggest he was the best bowler for the Strikers with 3 for 33, but their success was more subtle than merely the efforts of one man. Botha shuffled his bowlers cannily, bowling himself in solely one-over spells throughout the innings, taking 1 for 25 in the process. Only Pollard, who bowled just one over, conceded more than eight runs per over. Twice the Strikers have now bowled well and twice they have won.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket