A strong all-round display from Mitchell Marsh, the stand-in captain of Perth Scorchers, helped his side beat Lahore Lions by three wickets in the Champions League Twenty20 league match in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Lahore Lions were put in to bat by their opponents and needed to secure a big win to make the semi-final, but they faltered from the start.
They lost their top three batsmen, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Siddiq and Mohammad Hafeez, inside the first two overs of the match. Wahab Riaz, who was sent in at number four to lift the run rate, fell in the fourth over as well.
Marsh and Joel Paris did a bulk of the early damage with the ball. Lahore Lions struggled to recover from the insipid start. Saad Nasim and Umar Akmal put on a 43-run stand for the fifth wicket and Mohammad Saeed joined Nasim for a 48-run stand for the sixth wicket to help their side limp to 124 runs in their 20 overs.
Perth Scorchers' top order struggled, much like their opponents, in the chase. They lost half their side in the first eight overs with just 34 runs on the board. It was then that Marsh came to the fore with the bat.
He smashed the first ball he faced for a four, past midwicket. The next two overs went boundary less, but then Marsh decided to switch gears from the 11th over onwards.
He clubbed three boundaries from two overs, after which Brad Hogg dispatched Adnan Rasool for two fours and a six in the 14th over.
Marsh maintained an aggressive stance against the spinners and fast bowlers alike. Once Perth Scorchers crossed the figure of 78 - the target within which Lahore Lions had to bowl them out to qualify for the semi-final - the 125-run target was achieved with relative ease. He ended Lahore's misery in the 19th over when he smashed Riaz for two sixes.
"It certainly was tight," Marsh, who is also the Man of the Match, said. "Certainly not the start we would have wanted. Those totals are not always easy, and they have an experienced bowling line-up. Joel has announced himself, and he has a massive future. Just had a bit of a tight hammie, fingers crossed all will be good. It has been fantastic. Although we lost those two close games, we take a lot out of them. We are a young side, a lot to take out of this tournament for us."