Scorchers strengthen BBL title credentials as Strikers crash for 92

Perth Scorchers 94 for 3 (Hardie 43) beat Adelaide Strikers 92 (Hatzoglou 3-14, Payne 3-20, Morris 3-26) by seven wickets

League leaders Perth Scorchers routed Adelaide Strikers to strengthen their BBL title favouritism with a seven-wicket thrashing.

After electing to bat at Adelaide Oval, Strikers’ formidable batting order eyed a strong total but were thwarted by a typically disciplined Scorchers attack.

Scorchers mowed down the small victory target in the 12th over to claim the Jason Gillespie Trophy.

They can wrap up top spot with a victory over Melbourne Renegades in their regular season finale at home on Sunday, while Strikers are in a logjam for a playoff spot.

Payne underlines Scorchers’ pace riches

Scorchers rested veteran left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff but they boast a decent replacement in Englishman Payne, who claimed the vital wickets of openers Matt Short and Travis Head to finish with 3 for 20 from three overs.

Left-armer Payne, who last year made his England debut in an ODI against Netherlands, bowled in-form Short with a gem of a delivery through the gate to start Strikers’ rot.

After being hit for two boundaries by a dismissive Head, who used his feet supremely, Payne hit back and had him caught at deep forward square leg.

Having impressed against Thunder and Sixers in his BBL debut season, Payne swung the ball menacingly and returned in the backend to dismiss Adam Hose who was the only Strikers batter to offer resistance.

His emergence has added to Scorchers’ embarrassment of pace riches with star quick Jhye Richardson set to return from a hamstring injury in time for the playoffs.

Strikers’ plan backfired

Strikers’ well-worn plan fell apart in a reckless batting display. They had beefed up their batting with the inclusion of Harry Nielsen and hoped several strategies would disrupt Scorchers’ all-conquering attack.

Having lost Short in the opening over, Strikers used middle-order batter Thomas Kelly at No.3 – as they had planned if a wicket fell in the first two overs.

They hoped Kelly could be something of a pinch-hitter while allowing Alex Carey – an excellent player against spin – to drop down the order in a bid to curb Scorchers’ spinners Hatzoglou and Ashton Agar, who generally bowl in tandem after the powerplay.

But Kelly’s promotion didn’t work as he failed to collar Agar in the second over before falling to Morris having made just nine off 13 balls.

Coming to the crease earlier than expected, Carey fell to Hatzoglou for just one as Strikers slumped to 4 for 22 and they never recovered.

Hardie’s confidence is soaring

Scorchers players have been ribbing Nick Hobson about not being needed to bat. He might be the butt of more jokes after not batting for the fifth time in their last six matches.

Hobson started the season at No. 3 but has fallen down the order and mostly not been required recently with his replacement Aaron Hardie relishing his promotion.

Emerging allrounder Hardie has become something of an expert in chasing highlighted by a career best 90 not out against Hobart Hurricanes last start.

After Scorchers lost a couple of early wickets, Hardie ensured there would be no nerves for them with another display of power hitting to club 43 off 30 balls. He fell with victory in sight but moved just three runs behind Short as the BBL’s leading run scorer.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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