Perth Scorchers 7 for 197 (Bell 61, Turner 44*) beat Adelaide Strikers 9 for 149 (Hodge 56, Johnson 3-33) by 48 runs
Perth Scorchers opened their Big Bash season with a 48-run win at the WACA, racking up 197 for 7 before holding the Adelaide Strikers to 149 for 9 in reply. Ian Bell and Mitchell Marsh drove the innings past the halfway mark before Ashton Turner finished it off with an unbeaten 44 off 19 balls.
Ben Dunk and Jay Weatherald had put on a partnership of 133 in Adelaide's so-nearly run chase against Brisbane Heat two days earlier, but they contributed one run between them against Perth. David Willey got them both after opening the bowling, and after three overs of the chase Adelaide were 2 for 7. That slipped to 3 for 15 in the last ball of the fourth when Travis Head nicked Jhye Richardson behind off an extravagant cut.
Brad Hodge played a gem in resistance, including four consecutive fours off Richardson after the fall of Head, a cover slash for four to welcome Mitchell Johnson back to competitive cricket, and a top-edged flick for six off Andrew Tye. But Johnson got Kieron Pollard that same over, and Hodge's eventual 56 off 33 balls wasn't enough.
Bell tolled you so
Ian Bell was in ordinary form when he was squeezed out of the England Test team, but that middle order hasn't had a convincing replacement since. It may seem far-fetched to suggest that a good BBL could vault him back into the reckoning, but it wouldn't hurt his cause.
Bell's first ball in the BBL was dropped by Weatherald at midwicket from a top-edged pull, but thereafter the new signing was a picture of composure and class. English batsmen are supposed to struggle with the bounce of Australian pitches, but Bell's cross-bat shots were a feature of his innings. The highlight, though, was his cover drive for six off one-time England teammate Chris Jordan. Bell was out in the 16th over, and his 61 off 42 balls had set up the match.
The engine room delivers
With Bell steaming along like a well-tended bain marie, Marsh came out to join him at 2 for 64 in the eighth. Another player recently dumped from his country's Test team, Marsh came good with a couple of massive sixes in his 31 from 19 balls.
By the time he fell it was 3 for 121 in the 13th over, a platform was set. Turner hit four sixes and two fours to build it skywards, and the resultant scoreboard pressure undid the Strikers from the first over of their chase.
If you can't win tough, win funny
Perth crowds have quickly become accustomed to success during the Big Bash, and didn't smile much at missing out last year.
They managed a good laugh during the end of their batting innings, though, as Ashton Agar slapped a single towards cover and tried to come back for a second. There was not even half a run there and the allrounder should have been run out by yards. Instead, as he watched helplessly, wicketkeeper Dunk couldn't handle the throw. It went through his gloves to backward point where it was kicked even further away on the slide, and a single plus a wicket had instead become three runs and no dismissal. Commentators called for the Benny Hill music, and the orange-clad throng in the crowd lapped up every second.
Strikers teeter early, Scorchers solidify
Two adverse results, and the Strikers are in early trouble. They haven't managed to chase successfully from two attempts this season and now they have to wait for New Year's Eve for their next chance at home against Sydney Sixers.
A good start for Perth though, with all the confidence that will flow from an early win in which all departments excelled - Johnson with three wickets, new boy Bell with runs, and Marsh showing that he isn't downcast after his Australian troubles. A trip to Sydney two days after Christmas to tackle the Sixers is next.