Stars quicks secure MCG semi-final
Melbourne Stars 146 for 9 (Hussey 36, Dixon 3-32) beat Perth Scorchers 94 (Voges 46*, Worrall 3-15, Hilfenhaus 3-17) by 52 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For much of their stuttering innings, Melbourne Stars' prospects of a finals berth looked in serious peril. But a 52-run come-from-behind victory over defending champions Perth Scorchers at the WACA has ensured they are a legitimate chance of winning their first ever BBL title.
A scintillating bowling performance - they bowled Scorchers out for 94 in the 19th over - guaranteed Stars second place on the BBL ladder, which means the two teams will likely go at it again next Friday at the MCG in the second semi-final.
Chasing 147 for victory, and at least 109 to play the knockouts at the WACA ground, Scorchers collapsed under sustained and disciplined bowling. Only captain Adam Voges, who remained unbeaten on 46, managed to avoid a trend of reckless and baffling strokes that became instant wickets. Stars' new-ball bowlers Daniel Worrall and Ben Hilfenhaus produced seven fine overs, which fetched six wickets and conceded only 32 runs.
Openers Michael Klinger (0) and David Willey (2) succumbed to Worrall's menace, leaving Scorchers at 2 for 9 in the third over. The WACA crowd of 20,870 - a record in the Big Bash - were petrified and when Ben Hilfenhaus dismissed Michael Carberry and Ashton Agar in the sixth over, the match's result was effectively decided.
Scorchers had spiralled to 4 for 26 and essentially re-adjusted their focus to chasing down the 109 runs needed to host a semi-final. But regular wickets, and an inability from anyone to support Voges, meant Scorchers fell short of that too.
It was the type of result that looked unlikely earlier in the day. After being sent in to bat, Stars could mount very little momentum and were three down before the Powerplay was done. None of their top four managed a score more than 14, but captain David Hussey struck 36 off 25 balls and the lower order took his example to heart. An enterprising 27-run ninth wicket partnership between Worrall and Evan Gulbis took the total to 9 for 146.
Both sides had lost players to the Australian ODI team, but Scorchers were worse off with their pace spearhead Jason Behrendorff's back injury. A key to Scorchers' unparalleled BBL success over the years has been their depth and knack of fringe players stepping up when given an opportunity. This trait was further exemplified tonight with Matt Dixon shining in his first BBL game of the tournament.
With Behrendorff out and Joel Paris on national duty, Dixon made the most of his chance with hostile bouncers that rattled Stars' top order. In notable contrast from the WACA's staid pitch just four days earlier for the India ODI, Scorchers' quicks got the ball to rear up sharply to make life difficult for Stars' batsmen.
Dixon picked up Luke Wright (14) and Peter Handscomb (9) with short deliveries and also had Kevin Pietersen (8) caught behind off a fuller one, although the former England batsman was nonplussed with the decision. Dixon finished with 3 for 32 off four overs. Stars were 4 for 55 in eight overs.
Hussey and Rob Quiney took over rebuilding duties with a hard-hitting 40-run partnership, and the visitors began hoping for a competitive score on a fast and bouncy WACA pitch. But David Willey broke through and Quiney was well caught at point by Ashton Turner. Hussey looked most likely to steer Stars to respectability but he was felled in the 14th over, coolly caught on the long-off boundary by Ashton Agar off Brad Hogg.
Seamer Andrew Tye finished things off with his remarkable accuracy and various slower balls. He finished with 2 for 25 from four overs and likely put himself into Australia's World T20 calculations.