Match Report: Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers (30/01/21)
Updated: Mar 8
Sydney Sixers 168-1 (17.0) beat Perth Scorchers (167-6) by nine wickets
James Vince hit a sterling 98 not out as the Sydney Sixers crushed the Perth Scorchers at the Manuka Oval to secure a place in next Saturday’s Big Bash final.
After the Scorchers had staged a rally in the latter part of their innings to set what seemed to be a challenging total, the Canberra crowd watched something of an anti-climax as the Sixers comfortably eased to their target.
Five Sydney bowlers shared six wickets, with the pick being Ben Dwarshuis (2-40), but the only scalp of the chase was claimed by Englishman Liam Livingstone’s off-spin (1-16).
The visitors had experienced a challenging start, losing Jason Roy, who made only three, and Livingstone (15) cheaply as they stuttered to 74-2 at the halfway point.
Things got even worse when the dangerous Colin Munro (30) and Mitchell Marsh (2) were both caught in quick succession, with the latter mired in controversy, to leave them 85-4 with seven overs remaining.
Wicketkeeper Josh Inglis and captain Ashton Turner fought back, coming together to add 59 off 34, including 22 off one Sean Abbott over, before the latter holed out for 33.
Inglis eventually made an unbeaten 69, which included two late sixes, and combined with Aaron Hardie for 16 off the final over as the Scorchers dugout breathed a sigh of relief that they did have runs they could bowl at.
However, the signs that Perth had underachieved in their innings were evident from the start of the chase, as Sixers openers Vince and Josh Philippe marched their side to 84 without loss after just eight overs.
Despite the loss of their leading run-scorer Philippe for 45 off 28 balls shortly afterwards, Vince remained a quality presence at the crease, and his side cruised to their target with three full overs remaining.
Delight enveloped the Sixers camp, and they will now return to Sydney to host the final, with the Scorchers requiring two back-to-back wins to join them.
Mitchell Marsh’s controversial dismissal
Although Marsh hasn’t quite set this year’s tournament alight with bat or ball, there is very little more dangerous in Twenty20 cricket than an aggressive player with a point to prove.
As Marsh strode out to the middle with his side needing a boost at 81-3 in the 12th over, the Sixers knew they could ill afford to let him get settled.
Thankfully for Greg Shipperd’s side, Marsh was not afforded that opportunity, although the circumstances in which he was dismissed for only two were particularly harsh on the all-rounder.
When experienced spinner Stephen O’Keefe floated one down the leg side five deliveries into the 13th, Josh Philippe appealed for the catch from behind the stumps.
Marsh, who was so confident he hadn’t got anything on the ball, wasn’t even looking at the umpire when the finger was raised, and appeared visibly shocked when he did glance up.
The 29-year-old responded initially with a shout of “NO!”, followed by some choice vernacular as he walked off, and his misery was compounded as TV replays seemed to show daylight between bat and ball.
In the age of replays and 360-degree camera angles, viewers at home can re-watch the crucial moment as many times as they wish, while the umpire only gets one shot.
On this occasion, the indications were that he may have got it wrong, but that does not reduce his credibility, and instead simply serves as a reminder that the officials are only human.
Vince’s class shines through
James Vince has never quite managed to make the step up to international cricket, but, at Hampshire, has remained one of the top performers in the English domestic game in all three formats.
It is hardly surprising, then, and even on the other side of the world, to see him batting with such composure and superiority, and his innings today was the driving force behind the Sixers’ comfortable win.
No part of the field escaped his careful steering of the ball for his 98 not out from 53 balls, which included 14 fours and one six, although he did find particular joy when aiming for midwicket, adding 19 runs in that area.
The Scorchers’ quicks largely pitched it right, with the majority of their deliveries landing on a good length, but they could nothing about Vince’s sheer quality.
After Daniel Hughes had hit a four to leave the Sixers requiring one off 21 in a foregone conclusion to the match, he was only too happy to block out three dot balls in a row and allow Vince the chance to reach 100.
Despite that selfless act by Hughes, there was disappointment for Vince right at the end, as he stood on strike, two from his century, but Scorchers quick AJ Tye sent down a wide to leave him stranded short.
However, that will have evaporated quickly as Vince was applauded, and then embraced, by his jubilant team-mates as he exited the field, and confirmation arrived of the Sixers’ spot in a home final.
Final will be at the SCG
Australia has been lauded by the global community for how it has handled the Covid-19 outbreak, which means restrictions on daily life down under are not as prohibitive as in other parts of the world.
However, travel controls still exist around Sydney, and such controls have meant that Australia’s largest city has been unable to host a BBL game all season.
Thankfully, confirmation has been received that the Sixers will be able to host the final at the SCG, which, as long as everyone remains safe, is a wonderful announcement for Sydneysiders.
The Sixers’ opponents in the final remain unknown, with two further playoff matches prior to next weekend set to decide who they will face.
Meanwhile, the Scorchers’ tournament is not over, and they will compete again on Thursday, when they host the winner of tomorrow’s encounter between the Sydney Thunder and the Brisbane Heat.
Sydney Sixers: Philippe 8, Vince 10, Hughes 7, Henriques 6, Silk 7, Christian 6, Brathwaite 7, Abbott 6, Dwarshuis 8, O’Keefe 7, Bird 7.
Unused X-Factors: Pope, Kerr.
Perth Scorchers: Roy 5, Livingstone 7, Munro 7, Inglis (WK) 9, Marsh 5, Turner (c) 8, Hardie 6, Richardson 4, Tye 5, Behrendorff 5, Ahmed 5.
Unused X-Factors: Paris, Bancroft.