Hobart Hurricanes 4 for 153 (Paine 74*, Hogg 3-17) beat Perth Scorchers 8 for 152 (Katich 66, Laughlin 3-19) by six wickets
Tim Paine starred with an unbeaten 74 in the run chase after Hobart Hurricanes' bowlers restricted the enigmatic Perth Scorchers line-up. Set 153 to win, Paine controlled the chase sublimely. He was unfazed when he lost his opening partner Aiden Blizzard early. It brought Paine and Ricky Ponting together again after they combined for a century stand against Sydney Thunder two-games earlier.
There was an element of "anything you can do I can do better" between the master, Ponting, and the apprentice Paine.
Paine, who has represented Australia in Tests, struck three consecutive boundaries off the inexperienced Jason Behrendorff in the fifth over. Ponting answered with a streaky leading edge to the point fence off Nathan Coulter-Nile and a phenomenal lofted cover drive for six at the other end. Paine took Behrendorff to task the following over with two powerful blows, through and over the leg-side.
The pair raced to a 90-run stand, and in doing so made the required run-rate almost irrelevant. That was until Ponting fell to Brad Hogg, top-edging a paddle shot to short fine leg. It became two victims in two balls when Travis Birt was trapped on the crease to a trademark Hogg wrong 'un.
Hogg could have been the difference had he garnered support from others. When he lured a soft return catch from Owais Shah, he had figures of 3 for 13. But runs flowed like currents through the Derwent at the other end. Paine, unperturbed, cruised home with the steady support of his captain George Bailey. The Hurricanes won comfortably with six wickets and nine balls to spare.
Having come from a heatwave in Western Australia, the Scorchers froze in the first match of the New Year, and without the contribution of Simon Katich they might have struggled to set a total of any significance.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Scorchers lost their first wicket to Xavier Doherty who delivered a wicket-maiden to start the match. Herschelle Gibbs cut a waist-high catch to point on the third ball of the innings.
Shaun Marsh was struck a nasty blow on the thumb from a fired-up Doug Bollinger in the second over. The left-arm quick removed the in-form Marsh not long after, to leave the Scorchers reeling at 2 for 10.
Then Katich produced arguably the innings of the tournament. His 66 from just 41 balls proved unequivocally that he is still a player of immeasurable quality at this level, even in a format he is not renowned for. He struck four sixes, including back-to-back bombs from the pace of Bollinger. His nine boundaries in all found every corner of Bellerive. His preference was midwicket, but he pulled Gulbis from one knee behind square and uppercut him over the point fence. He also struck Doherty over extra cover for four using nothing more than some delightful footwork and a gentle punch with the bottom hand.
Katich was ably supported by his trusty lieutenants Marcus North and Adam Voges, but neither could cash in on starts. All three fell to the canny skills of Ben Laughlin who is turning into a major weapon for the Hobart side.
The Scorchers return home to face the winless Sydney Thunder on Friday, whilst the Hurricanes host the Adelaide Strikers on Saturday night.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth