Brilliant Turner leads Perth Scorchers into home BBL final

Brilliant Turner leads Perth Scorchers into home BBL final

Perth Scorchers 154 for 3 (Turner 84*, Bancroft 53*, Abbott 3-25) beat Sydney Sixers 151 for 8 (Henriques 58*, Silk 47*, Payne 3-33) by seven wickets

Captain Ashton Turner and Cameron Bancroft combined for a blistering partnership to power Perth Scorchers into the BBL grand final with a seven-wicket victory over arch-rival Sydney Sixers at a hostile Optus Stadium.

Chasing 152, Scorchers were in major trouble at 22 for 3 before Turner and Bancroft mowed down the target with ease much to the delight of a rowdy crowd of 41,126.

After a sloppy performance, Sixers host the winner of Sunday’s knockout final between Melbourne Renegades and Brisbane Heat.

Turner and Bancroft smash Sixers

Chasing 152 was not going to be easy on a two-paced surface, where batting has generally been quite difficult this season. That proved the case when Scorchers were reeling before Turner and Bancroft came to the rescue.

As former coach Justin Langer noted on the Seven broadcast, the pair are close friends and have lived together previously. They also run between the wickets well as they showed early in the partnership to knock the ball around to dig Scorchers out of trouble.

Not for the first time this season, Turner was at his best in a tricky chase and he calmly overwhelmed the Sixers bowlers with a career best 84 off 47 balls.

Bancroft also hit a half-century and has enjoyed a strong campaign after struggling for a regular spot earlier in the season. They had some luck along the way, but it was a belligerent display that was lapped up by an increasingly vocal crowd as the match finished before sunset.

Sixers rue selecting spin-heavy attack

Sixers made a selection gamble by dropping quick Jackson Bird even though he had taken 2 for 26 last start against Hurricanes and bowled well at Optus Stadium in the season opener.

It didn’t seem to matter when spearhead Sean Abbott ripped the heart out of Scorchers batting, including the big wickets of in-form duo Aaron Hardie and Josh Inglis.

But after his devastating burst, Sixers lacked options with spinners Steve O’Keefe, who replaced Bird, and Izharulhaq Naveed ineffective and juxtaposed with a Scorchers attack that didn’t use spin in the Sixers innings.

O’Keefe in the 13th over should have claimed the wicket of Bancroft, whose skied ball fell in the middle of three Sixers fielders who looked at each other puzzled. It was the last chance for Sixers, who will have to lick their wounds quickly.

Payne steps up, Hardie has mixed bag

There were doubts whether left-arm quick David Payne was going to take his place after struggling with flu-like symptoms and he had to be isolated from his team-mates.

But Payne was well enough to play in a major boost for Scorchers attack missing quicks Jhye Richardson and Matt Kelly. He proved his worth with the key wicket of Steven Smith in a spectacular return catch and he also snared Moises Henriques and Hayden Kerr in consecutive deliveries to end his spell.

Englishman Payne has proven a vital recruit for Scorchers as underlined in a starring role against Sixers, where he hit the pitch hard and bowled slower short-pitched deliveries forcing batters to hit to the longer square boundaries.

It was a see-saw of an innings best exemplified by Hardie’s mixed bag, where he snared a brilliant leaping one-handed grab to dismiss Kurtis Patterson only to drop Smith with a sitter.

He also dropped a tough return catch off a high hit from Abbott as Scorchers finished satisfied with their efforts restricting Sixers but they knew it could have been better.

Smith has rare failure, Henriques rallies Sixers

Smith hoped to finish his whirlwind BBL stint in style, but this loomed as his biggest challenge of the season. He received a hostile reception from the Scorchers faithful when he was jeered during the pre-game announcement of teams and Smith was left frustrated by being devoid of the strike.

In the second over, Smith top-edged a short delivery from speedster Lance Morris into the crowd but he faced just two balls in the first 17 balls of the innings.

Smith was unable to find the rhythm which lit a fuse under the BBL and he struggled against the pace of Morris during a mouth-watering contest. He received a big reprieve when Hardie dropped a sitter at mid-off but Smith couldn’t capitalise and he fell for 18 to a superb return catch from Payne after mistiming a drive.

It was left to skipper Henriques, who cashed in on being dropped on 18 to steady Sixers alongside veteran Jordan Silk in an 88-run partnership. But Sixers fell away and their total was not nearly enough.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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