The Adelaide Strikers have booked their place in the KFC BBL|13 Challenger with a comprehensive 50-run victory over Perth Scorchers on their home deck in the Eliminator.
The Strikers now prepare to fly across the country for another do-or-die clash, this time against Brisbane Heat on the Gold Coast on Monday evening, with first ball schedule for 7.10pm ACDT and the winner set to face the Sydney Sixers in the Final.
Spin turned the game for the Strikers, with Lloyd Pope and Cam Boyce delivering a leg-spinning masterclass to run through the Scorchers line-up and deliver a fifth consecutive victory to an Adelaide side flush with momentum in the second half of the tournament.
In all, the Strikers utilised 12.2 overs of spin from a total of 16.2, with Lloyd Pope claiming back-to-back Player of the Match honours with figures of 4-24, while Boyce collected the final wicket to finish with 3-20 in a truly dominant performance.
A new look batting line-up found the Optus Stadium pitch tricky early, but a third successive display of dominance from Jake Weatherald and vital late runs to Ben Manenti, Henry Thornton and David Payne saw the Strikers set a total they were able to defend, bowling the Scorchers out in the 17th over to stay alive in BBL|13.
Losing the toss and asked to bat, the Strikers faultlessly consistent opening pair of Matt and D’Arcy Short were unable to produce another partnership, as D’Arcy made his way back to the sheds with just eight runs on the board. When Team of the Tournament captain and prolific boundary basher Matt then fell shortly after, followed quickly by Thomas Kelly and Harry Nielsen, the visitors were in serious trouble at 4-48.
Weatherald then took responsibility for the foundation of a competitive total, finding ten boundaries, including two maximums, at a rapid rate to raise the bat in recognition of a half-century at a strike-rate of 175.
Unfortunately for the Strikers, Weatherald lost his bails to Scorchers skipper Aaron Hardie moments after reaching the milestone, handing the baton to Manenti and Thornton, who proved to be more than up for the challenge.
From 6-95, the pair drove the Strikers to the ultimately successful total of 7-155, cracking 23 from 20 and 28* from 21 respectively, with English international David Payne joining the party late with a huge six of his own to close out the innings.
Debutant Sam Fanning got both his BBL career and the Scorchers off to a dream start, whacking two sixes and three fours at the top of the order, eventually dismissed for 31 from 20 by Thornton by way of a Weatherald catch.
Resurgent leg-spin star Pope then sparked a charge from the Strikers, sending Marcus Harris back to the sheds with his fourth ball to have the home side reeling at 2-44 with six overs in the books.
When fellow leg-spinner and BBL|13 Team of the Tournament inductee Boyce lured Sam Whiteman into a false shot that brought Weatherald into the game yet again, followed instantly by a Pope special that struck Hardie’s stumps, the Scorchers were faltering at 4-48 and the local crowd were stunned into silence.
Taking the ball to begin a third over following the drinks break, Boyce again stepped up, rocking Inglis’ stumps to have the remarkable, if not unsurprising, figures of 2-9 to his credit early in his spell.
Never one to fail to make his impact felt, Strikers skipper Matt Short spectacularly added to the rout when he launched himself horizontally to secure a stunning caught and bowled and grab of the tournament candidate to reduce Perth to 6-77.
Taking the powerplay in the 13th over in search of more runs, all that came for the Scorchers was another wicket as Payne sent Ashton Agar back to the sheds to all but confirm a BBL Finals run for the Strikers.
Pope and Boyce then re-entered the attack, locking in an east coast flight booking the final wickets, as the Scorchers were bowled out for 105 from just 16.1 overs, the result punctuated by a boundary line juggling effort to James Bazley.
Monday’s Challenger clash against the Brisbane Heat will decide who is to face the Sydney Sixers for the title, with the game to be broadcast on Seven, Foxtel, Kayo Sports and SEN.
A 13-man squad has been selected for the Challenger Final, with Henry Hunt and Brendan Doggett returning home to Adelaide to compete in a Second XI match for the West End Redbacks next week.
Squad of 13 for Challenger Final: Matthew Short (c), Wes Agar, James Bazley, Cameron Boyce, Josh Kann, Thomas Kelly, Ben Manenti, Harry Nielsen (wk), David Payne, Lloyd Pope, D’Arcy Short, Henry Thornton, Jake Weatherald