Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth and writes on sports for the Guardian and mailerreport
Perth Scorchers 2 for 154 (Livingstone 78, Inglis 58, Sandhu 1-33) beat Sydney Thunder 5 for 153 (Hales 85, Jordan 3-28) by eight wickets
Liam Livingstone and Josh Inglis destroyed Sydney Thunder to reignite Perth Scorchers' push for a home final with a crushing eight-wicket victory on Monday.
Chasing a modest 154, the belligerent openers flayed the Thunder attack in an opening stand of 136 as the Scorchers mowed down the target with 27 balls to spare.
The Thunder were outplayed after electing to bat and struggled to overcome the Scorchers' disciplined attack. Only a lone hand from opener Alex Hales (85), who almost batted through the innings, defied the Scorchers' probing quicks but he lacked support.
The Scorchers ended a two-game losing streak and overtook the Thunder into fourth on the ladder amid a logjam mid-table.
Thunder recover from slow start
Runs have flowed during the Powerplays in Perth this season but the Thunder's vaunted opening duo failed to fire. Hales survived a strong lbw shout first ball from Jhye Richardson and looked scratchy on the bouncy deck.
Usman Khawaja handled the conditions better but felt the pinch of the slow run-rate in the fourth over and hit Mitchell Marsh's first delivery to mid-on as the Scorchers' quicks dictated proceedings with accurate short-pitched bowling.
After the Thunder could only muster 32 runs in the Powerplay, Marsh wisely used spinner Fawad Ahmed who promptly claimed a desperate Callum Ferguson with his first delivery.
An under pressure Hales decided to unleash and he managed successive boundaries in the eighth over, but only through unconvincing outside edges. The Englishman took a liking to Livingstone's innocuous spin and smashed him down the ground for six with a rare clean strike to ensure the Thunder found momentum at the midpoint at 2 for 72.
Hales ensures competitive Thunder total
Marsh again showed his captaincy nous by discarding Livingstone and turning to Chris Jordan, as Hales and Arjun Nair - who had been promoted to No.5 - settled to rebuild the innings. Jordan repaid the faith in the 12th over with the wicket of Nair followed by Daniel Sams with a menacing bouncer.
The Thunder's momentum ground to a halt with Hales once again going back into his shell. He grew frustrated after repeatedly picking out the fielders, before breathing easier after landing sixes off Marsh and Jordan.
Hales' intent seemed to spark Alex Ross, who had initially looked out of sorts but belligerently attacked Matt Kelly in the 18th over as the partnership sped past fifty. Hales eyed a century after crunching two boundaries in the penultimate over to sour Richardson's previously miserly figures. He needed 15 runs in the last over to notch a ton but could not add to his total after holing out to compatriot Jordan, who proved a thorn for the Thunder with his eclectic bowling.
Inglis and Livingstone destroy Thunder
The Thunder's total appeared under par reinforced by an aggressive Inglis, who bludgeoned four boundaries off the opening over. Inglis made it look easy marked by an outrageous scooped six off Brendan Doggett to underline his mastery of the stroke.
Inglis and Livingstone pounced on wayward Thunder bowling, who were unable to replicate the hostility from their Scorchers counterparts. The pair reached fifty in just the fourth over in a notable juxtaposition to the Thunder's earlier dawdling in the Powerplay.
There seemed no stopping Inglis until he was battered in the helmet by a rearing Gurinder Sandhu delivery and required medical attention. It failed to shake him as he smashed a six upon resumption, as a frazzled Ferguson turned to left-arm spinner Liam Bowe out of desperation in the sixth over.
Livingstone promptly smashed another six as the Scorchers reached 0 for 76 after the Powerplay. The Thunder couldn't take a trick with a diving Doggett dropping Livingstone on 32 in the outfield.
Perhaps having learned from Brisbane Heat's meltdown the night before, the openers batted sensibly by knocking the ball around until Livingstone decided to attack Bowe with consecutive sixes to reach his half-century off just 28 balls.
Doggett's nightmare ends
Doggett's horror night continued when he dropped a return catch that hung in the air to reprieve Livingstone on 57. It got even worse for him next over when he once again reprieved Livingstone much to the mirth of the sparse Scorchers faithful.
Doggett breathed a sigh of relief when he finally held on to a diving catch to dismiss Inglis for 58 and emerged from the turf with a wry smile. Livingstone fell for 78 attempting a six for victory but it mattered little.