Scorchers begin title defence with loss to Strikers
Adelaide Strikers 6 for 152 (Jayawardene 42, Ross 38) beat Perth Scorchers 6 for 151 (Shaun Marsh 47, Voges 45*, Rashid 2-21) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Defending champions Perth Scorchers began their BBL 2015-16 campaign with a loss, going down by four wickets against the Adelaide Strikers in Perth. It was a bad day for the Scorchers who have now bizarrely lost every one of their BBL openers. The Scorchers could only muster 6 for 151, which the Strikers reeled in with four wickets in hand and five balls to spare.
Incumbent Australia Test batsman Shaun Marsh's innings promised to make a resounding case for selection but, despite a brief tease, failed to land a decisive punch for Scorchers. One day after Usman Khawaja seemingly won a recall for the Boxing Day Test, Marsh looked set to replicate Khawaja's centurion deeds. However, just when he seemed set for an imposing score, Marsh miscued a short delivery from Michael Neser and was caught on the boundary. Marsh underlined his abundance of talent during a belligerent 47 from 35 deliveries, but it wasn't quite the score he would have been hoping for.
Compounding the Scorchers' woes, Test hopeful Nathan Coulter-Nile, the only fast bowler in Australia's squad cleared to play in the BBL ahead of the MCG Test, left the field in the 12th over with a shoulder injury. Coulter-Nile slipped after a misfield and landed awkwardly. Coulter-Nile, who was in the frame for the Boxing Day Test, had impressed with an all-round performance that included a belligerent 8-ball 18 and impressive returns of 1 for 18 from 3 overs.
The Strikers started their chase briskly with Tim Ludeman hitting emerging pacer Joel Paris for three consecutive boundaries to open the innings. The Scorchers, however, clawed their way back into the contest with probing bowling and brilliant fielding.
The game was in the balance with the Strikers at 3 for 67 in the ninth over but veteran Mahela Jayawardene calmly restored the initiative with a 40-ball 42 before Alex Ross - labeled as "probably the most improved player in Australia" by national selector Mark Waugh - sealed the deal with a hard-hitting 38.
After the Scorchers captain Adam Voges won the toss and elected to bat on a flat pitch baking under sweltering Perth conditions, Marsh continued on from his rich Test form, plundering a hapless Strikers attack.
He drove superbly against the quicks, and used his feet perfectly to smash the Strikers spinner Jon Holland for two sixes in three deliveries in the eighth over, much to the delight of a near-capacity WACA crowd, many of whom were draped in partisan orange.
Marsh's opening partner Michael Klinger started swiftly with consecutive cover drives in the opening over and, despite eventually falling for 19, became the second player after Aaron Finch to score more than 1000 BBL runs.
While the pitch was flat, WACA traditionalists would have had a lump in the throat watching the ball rear from the surface, a characteristic that was notably lacking during last month's Test match against New Zealand. Paris and the Strikers pacer Kane Richardson notably produced several searing deliveries that evoked images of the WACA's golden era.
The pick of the Strikers' bowling, however, was import spinner Adil Rashid, who finished with 2 for 21 and snared the key wickets of a scratchy Michael Carberry (5) and an impatient Mitchell Marsh (1 from 2 balls). The Scorchers lost 4 for 28 between overs 10 and 16 to stifle their early momentum.
Voges' white-hot form continued as he made an unbeaten 45 from 32 balls, and looked unruffled while wickets regularly fell at the other end.