Perth Scorchers 3 for 189 (Inglis 79, Patterson 64, Kerr 2-37) beat Sydney Sixers 141 (Dwarshuis 66, Agar 2-16, Richardson 2-21) by 48 runs
All-conquering Perth Scorchers powered into the BBL final after thrashing beleaguered arch-rivals Sydney Sixers by 49 runs at the Marvel Stadium. In the Qualifier between this season's top two teams who have shared six titles between them, a full-strength Scorchers produced an almost flawless performance to book a spot in the decider on January 28, which will be played at the same ground - which is also favoured by Scorchers - due to Western Australia's hard border.
But against Sixers, it wasn't all rosy for Scorchers, who will be sweating on the fitness of star allrounder Mitchell Marsh after the T20 World Cup hero didn't take to the field during Sixers' innings due to tightness in his right hamstring.
Two-time defending champions Sixers appeared rattled after getting rocked by opener Jack Edwards being forced into isolation due to his brother Mickey receiving an inconclusive Covid-19 test result and the last minute withdrawal of batter Daniel Hughes, who injured his ankle during the pre-game warm-up.
Thus, Sixers' chase for a historic hat-trick of titles now goes on the line in the Challenger on Wednesday against the winner of Sunday's knockout final between Sydney Thunder and the in-form Adelaide Strikers.
Rejuvenated Inglis and Patterson smash Sixers
Josh Inglis had a highest score of 23 from six innings this BBL season but picked a good time to return to form, needing just 16 balls to notch a season high en route to 79 off 49 balls.
Inglis combined in a rollicking 120-run stand with opening partner Kurtis Patterson, who has unexpectedly transformed himself into a belligerent batter this season. The left-hander rekindled his early-season dynamism and put pressure on Sixers' maestro spinner Steve O'Keefe from the get go with a slog-sweep for six.
After Patterson fell for 64, an audacious Inglis took over, marked by a stunning reverse-paddle for four off quick Hayden Kerr as he unleashed two days of frustration on the hapless Sixers, who were fuming on being disallowed Steven Smith's services for the finals. It meant Scorchers only required a cameo from Marsh, who hit 28 from 21 balls and appeared inconvenienced with an injury.
Abbott's struggles underline Sixers' woes
Sixers started with senior Australia spinner Nathan Lyon instead of O'Keefe, who is normally a master in the four-over powerplay but may have been held back due to his good record against Marsh. Even though Lyon bowled a menacing first over where he created half chances, Sixers' plan didn't work as they had no answer for Scorchers' red-hot openers.
O'Keefe finally came on in the sixth over, but it might have been too late as a rampaging Patterson treated him with disdain. Sixers weren't helped by an out-of-form Sean Abbott either, who once again struggled to find the right lengths, seamer leaking 39 runs from four overs. An unfocused Sixers appeared to be going through the motions as Scorchers hovered around ten runs an over for the whole innings.
Thus, Sixers need to do some soul searching before their must-win Challenger match on Wednesday.
Richardson stars in BBL season debut
Playing his first BBL match of the season after Ashes duties for Australia, speedster Jhye Richardson made up for lost time with a withering opening burst. He thought he had claimed the prized wicket of Josh Philippe in the first over when Scorchers appealed for what seemed like a leg-before chance as well as a caught behind, as the ball deflected through to the keeper. But neither was given out, as replays later confirmed that there was indeed an inside edge on the ball.
However, Richardson nevertheless knocked Philippe out in his next over amid Scorchers' rout of Sixers' top order. He then came back in the 11th over to claim Moises Henriques, finishing with an impressive 2 for 21 to further strengthen Scorchers' strong attack.
Mainstays Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye and Ashton Agar, who have all enjoyed stellar seasons, also claimed regular wickets for Scorchers to underline a well-oiled machine. The three-time champions have never looked better this season, storming into a remarkable seventh BBL final.
Sixers' batting offers little resistance
Sixers did endure a disrupted preparation but they should still be spooked by such a torrid batting effort. After their top order was blown away, they had the ignominy of the lowest ever score at the midway point of an innings in a final when they lurched at 5 for 41.
It was a hiding to nothing for debutant Nick Bertus, who made just 4 after being plucked out of the replacement pool of players to cover for Hughes, as his more seasoned team-mates fared little better. Only some late fireworks from Ben Dwarshuis, who hit a BBL record 66 at No.9, saved Sixers from complete humiliation.
Sixers clearly would have welcomed the services of Smith, whose bid to play in the finals was blocked by the BBL. However, now they simply need to regroup quickly.