Melbourne Stars 6 for 141 (Cartwright 58*, Kelly 3-27) beat Perth Scorchers 9 for 131 (Bancroft 32, Maddinson 3-24) by 10 runs
The Melbourne Stars dug deep with a superb performance in the field, and an unlikely starring role for Nic Maddinson's left-arm spin, as they were brilliantly captained by Glenn Maxwell against a Perth Scorchers team, whose batting is starting to look seriously wobbly as the push for the finals heats up.
On a slow pitch, both teams laboured with the bat, but the Stars hauled themselves to 6 for 141 as Hilton Cartwright batted throughout the innings for the fourth-slowest fifty-plus score in BBL history. Matt Kelly made an impressive return to the Scorchers attack with 3 for 27 including the scalps of Marcus Stoinis and Maxwell.
Maxwell then assessed the conditions quickly in the field and did not bowl an over of pace after the powerplay when the Scorchers had been handily placed on 1 for 41. Between them, the four Stars spinners had figures of 14-0-89-6, including the first wickets of Maddinson's T20 career in his 108th match. Two run outs, one of them of captain Mitchell Marsh, compounded the problems for the Scorchers, who face another long flight home as they try to regroup.
Kelly's confidence booster
Last season, Kelly's performances caught the eye so much that he earned a late deal with the IPL and was tipped for Australia honours. Things have been tougher for him this campaign and he lost his spot in the starting XI before returning for this match. It was an encouraging display on the day, which included removing the in-form Stoinis early when he jabbed a very full delivery to cover. Stoinis did not think he was out, but the replays were clear when the third umpire checked. Nathan Coulter-Nile's attempts to pinch-hit didn't work - as early signs emerged that scoring could be hard work - before he heaved Kelly to deep midwicket. Kelly later on returned to claim Maxwell, who reverse scooped to the keeper.
Cartwright's hard yards
At the end of the powerplay, the Stars were just 2 for 29 - their lowest tally of the season - and the Scorchers continued to squeeze. After ten overs, they had crawled to 3 for 49 and that included Maxwell launching Fawad Ahmed for six. At that point, Cartwright was 18 off 31 balls and it would not be until the final over that he would take his innings above a run-a-ball, even that coming with an inside edge between his legs. Crucially, though, he did not give it away, which meant the Stars never had two new batsmen at the crease. The bit of late impetus that the Stars managed came from Nick Larkin, who played another smart innings to hit 24 off 18 balls.
A deceptive foundation
Importantly, the Stars managed to keep hold of the Scorchers in the powerplay, although the visitors were going along reasonably comfortably. Coulter-Nile's first two balls were short and pulled away by Josh Inglis, who also dispatched a free hit from Lance Morris over the rope. Dan Worrall made an important inroad when he removed the in-form Inglis, who played one on to his stumps, although it was in the seventh over that the game started to change. Cameron Bancroft reverse swept Sandeep Lamichhane's first ball for four, but three deliveries later Liam Livingstone swung him to deep midwicket.
Maddinson's unlikely role
Maxwell quickly adapted his gameplan and decided it was spin to win. Lamichhane and left-arm wristspinner Clint Hinchliffe did not allow the Scorchers to get away, and then the surprise package emerged in the tenth over: Maddinson's round-arm left-arm spin, which had previously delivered five overs in T20 cricket. The first ball brought a wicket, although that was through a run out as Bancroft called for a single that Marsh was unsure of at the non-striker's end. Maxwell then turned to himself, Lamichhane and Hinchliffe until the 15th over. It was a period that did not bring a wicket, but only went for one boundary as Bancroft got stuck and Kurtis Patterson, playing his first BBL match of the season and first game of any sort since October, found his feet. When Maddinson returned, the equation was 55 off 36 balls, and his first delivery was drilled down the ground by Patterson. But when Bancroft crunched a full toss towards him later in the over, Maddinson instinctively stuck out a hand and held on to a stunning catch. From there, the chase unraveled badly for the Scorchers amid senseless shots with Maddinson also bowling the 18th and 20th overs in one of the more unexpected death-bowling displays of the season.