Morris reminds Aussie selectors with wild spell in Scorchers win over Strikers as Heat sink Sixers in battle for top spot
The Perth Scorchers have overcome a brave challenge from the Adelaide Strikers with a match-defining spell from Lance Morris to clinch a 42-run triumph in their BBL clash at Optus Stadium.
The Scorchers set a target of 212 as Laurie Evans smashed an unbeaten 85, but had to hold off a Strikers’ counter-attack led by their captain Matt Short to maintain their undefeated start to the season.
Short (74) took the Strikers to within sight of a stunning victory until Morris struck in the 16th over to dismiss the in-form opener and put the Scorchers back in command on Wednesday night.
The emerging fast bowler, who is on the fringe of Test selection, finished with his first BBL five-wicket haul while only conceding 24 runs from his four overs as the local product starred in front of 41,576 fans.
The Strikers had reached 153 with seven wickets and more than five overs remaining until Short spooned a full delivery straight to mid-off to end an entertaining innings from the top scorer so far this season.
The visitors then collapsed to be all out for 169 and suffer their fourth consecutive loss of the campaign.
Chris Lynn had looked likely to partner Short towards the lofty target with a quick-fire 27 until slashing at a wide ball from Morris and picking out Zak Crawley at deep point.
Morris also picked up the wickets of Adam Hose (13), out nicking a slower ball, Jamie Overton (1) caught off a good length, and James Bazley (2) getting a top edge to a short one.
Andrew Tye (2-35) also picked up crucial wickets and reached 150 BBL scalps when ending Thomas Kelly’s impressive knock on 29.
Jhye Richardson (2-31) wrapped up the Strikers’ innings with a pair of wickets from consecutive balls to secure the Scorchers’ fourth win from five matches this season.
Evans had earlier struck a blazing 85 not out to propel the Perth Scorchers to 4-211.
The England veteran punished the under-fire Strikers with seven sixes and seven fours from only 28 balls, as the Scorchers piled on more than 100 runs from the last six overs of their innings.
Evans started raising the run rate with three sixes in an over from Overton (2-44), and reached a half-century from 18 balls in just his second innings of the BBL season.
Aaron Hardie (34) also led the way through the middle overs in his second match in charge since taking the reins from the Scorchers’ injured captain Ashton Turner.
The Strikers won the toss and elected to field first at a venue where the team batting second have won eight of the past 10 BBL matches, but were unable to turn that into their advantage as Evans and then Morris took charge.
Walter goes nuts as Heat edge Sixers in thriller
Big hitting from English allrounder Paul Walter, who narrowly avoided a calamitous collision earlier in the game, carried unbeaten leaders Brisbane Heat to a three-run win over the Sydney Sixers in a rain-affected top-of-the-table BBL clash in Coffs Harbour.
Put in to bat at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium, the second-placed Sixers struggled to score quickly on a slow pitch, finishing at 8-141.
Rain interrupted the match with the Heat at 4-80 after 12 overs, two behind where they needed to be under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Three overs were lost with Brisbane needing 44 off five overs in a revised target of 124 off 17.
Walter smashed a huge legside six off Tom Curran, the first ball after the break.
He then whacked two fours in the first three balls of the only Power Surge over to lift the Heat to 4-104, three runs above the score required after 14.3 overs, when the second shower ended the game.
Heat moved four points ahead of the Sixers, who were second going into the game.
It was another frustrating night for the Sixers, who had each of their last two games end in a no result due to rain.
Walter and Nathan McSweeney (22 not out off 25) put on 32 for the fifth wicket.
Walter, who took 2-25 off three overs, and McSweeney were earlier involved in the most dramatic moment of the game.
As he raced in the outfield in pursuit of a return catch, Walter and McSweeney chased after the high ball with neither aware they were on a collision course.
The crowd held their breath but the two were lucky to escape with a minor bump, bringing back memories of the sickening collision between Steve Waugh and Jason Gillespie in Sri Lanka in 1999, when the former broke his nose and the latter his leg.
Walter appeared to pull out at the very last moment as McSweeney took the catch.
The Sixers were sloppy in the field early in the Heat innings dropping the dangerous Josh Brown on one and 36.
The latter reprieve gifted to him by Tom Curran came after the hard-hitting opener smashed successive sixes of spinner Todd Murphy later in the over.
The Heat were well placed at 1-60 in the eighth over, but Brown (43 off 31 balls) was then bowled by veteran spinner Stephen O’Keefe and they lost 3-12 before the rain came for the first time.
The Sixers struck six sixes, but just nine fours in their innings.
Left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann (2-19 off four overs) bowled particularly well, claiming the first two wickets to fall.
A third wicket stand of 47 between opener Josh Philippe (41 off 36 balls) and Moises Henriques (22 off 22) lifted the Sixers to 2-82 in the 13th over.
But the Sixers lost a wicket in each of the next four overs as their innings declined, losing 6-39.
Jack Edwards (22 off 15) and Ben Dwarshuis (13 not out off 6) added some late substance.
Brisbane’s bowling variety, execution and slick fielding were instrumental in keeping the score down.