Behrendorff, Richardson bowl Perth Scorchers to first win of season
Perth Scorchers 3 for 92 (Bosisto 36*, Turner 24) beat Adelaide Strikers 88 (Richardson 3-7, Tye 2-9, Behrendorff 2-16) by seven wickets
Throughout their history as the BBL's most successful side, the Perth Scorchers have beaten teams by outbowling them, with a potent ally in the WACA's pace and bounce. Playing only their second match at their new home, the Perth Stadium, they followed the same template to bring up their first win of BBL 08.
On a spicy deck that gave Boxing Day an extra layer of meaning, the Scorchers' fast bowlers out-punched their Adelaide Strikers counterparts, and the result was a seven-wicket win, with Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson playing starring roles.
Behrendorff and Richardson took five of the first seven wickets as the Strikers crumbled to 88 all out, after the Scorchers won what turned out to be an important toss. The smallness of the target allowed the Scorchers to see off their two biggest threats, Billy Stanlake and Rashid Khan, without taking too many risks, and a 57-run third-wicket stand between William Bosisto and Ashton Turner took the home side to the doorstep of victory.
Pace like fire
The surface Perth rolled out for last week's Australia-India Test was perhaps unlucky to end up with an "average" rating from the match referee, given the enthralling cricket it produced. It's less debatable, however, that the same sort of surface isn't ideal for T20. Generous quantities of pace, bounce and seam movement were available, and these three quantities led to the frequent, and stereotypically Australian, sight of the keeper collecting the still-rising ball at shoulder height.
To exploit these conditions the Scorchers had five quicks in Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, David Willey, Richardson and AJ Tye, and their two spin-bowling Ashtons, Agar and Turner, weren't required at all.
Behrendorff does his thing
In each of Scorchers' previous games - away defeats to the Renegades and the Sixers - Behrendorff had taken two wickets in his first spell. He did so again here, sending down his four overs in one go and removing the left-handed pair of Jake Weatherald - who made a chancy yet attractive 22 off 17 balls - and Colin Ingram. Both dismissals involved the leading edge or the leading half of the bat, which was the result of Behrendorff's left-arm-over angle, which induced the batsmen to try and go leg-side, across the line, and the extra bounce he was generating.
Those two wickets set off a proper tumble, from 0 for 25 to 7 for 46. That's 21 runs for the loss of seven wickets. The conditions played a part, as did some questionable decision making - most memorably the comical run-out of Alex Carey, but there was some good quick bowling too. Coulter-Nile, for instance, got one to kick up in the corridor to nick off Jonathan Wells, and Jake Lehmann hooked a sharp, well-directed bouncer from Richardson to fine leg first ball.
Getting to 50 seemed a big ask at one stage, leave alone 100, but Rashid and Cameron Valente managed to hustle together a 38-run stand for the eighth wicket to haul the Strikers into the 80s. There was some luck, and edges that flew over the keeper, but there was at least one memorable shot in that passage, chiefly a tennis-smash from Rashid that sent a Coulter-Nile bouncer over the backward square leg boundary.
A calm, well-planned chase
This was still a testing pitch, but 88 didn't look like nearly enough to make the Scorchers worry. And did the Strikers have the bowling to defend 88? The answer turned out to be no, despite the presence of perhaps the quickest and bounciest bowler on either side, Stanlake, and the all-conditions genius of Rashid.
Stanlake went past Josh Inglis' edges twice in his first over, and then dismissed him with the ball of the match, a steep lifter of constricting line that the batsman had little option but to glove behind. In between, though, Inglis got the chase off the blocks with some smooth strokeplay, including two pulled fours off Stanlake and a silky straight drive off Michael Neser. Even though the Scorchers also lost Michael Klinger to a needless run-out in the fourth over, they got to the Powerplay at a reasonable 2 for 31.
That left only 58 to get in 14 overs, and it allowed Bosisto and Turner to play out Rashid ultra-cautiously. The bounce allowed both batsmen to sit on the back foot without too much worry of getting bowled or lbw, read the direction of turn off the pitch, and keep it all out with a straight bat. Rashid only conceded nine runs off his four overs, but his wickets column remained blank.
The runs came off the other bowlers, and the third-wicket pair nearly took the Scorchers all the way before Turner, attempting an ambitious drive, was bowled by Valente with just two runs to get. It fell to Bosisto to make the winning hit, a bottom-handed whip to the square-leg boundary off Valente.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo