Earlier in the game, Colin Munro hit a half-century to help his team into what turned out to be an unassailable position
Perth Scorchers 6 for 185 (Munro 50, Doggett 4-22) beat Sydney Thunder 168 (Billings 83, Richardson 4-24) by 17 runs
Sam Billings‘ heroics in a thrilling chase ended in vain as AJ Tye‘s death bowling heroics denied Sydney Thunder’s late rally from a perilous position to deliver a 17-run win for the Perth Scorchers on Saturday. Brendan Doggett took four wickets on season debut for the Thunder to help restrict the Scorchers after Colin Munro‘s half-century followed a blistering Powerplay to begin the match but a rocky start to the chase ultimately doomed the Thunder’s efforts.
Billings and Ben Cutting teamed up for an 83-run partnership to revive the Thunder innings from 46 for 4 after six overs. But Tye claimed both men in the final six overs, including a spectacular 19th that included the wicket of Billings to snuff out the last remaining batting threat as the Scorchers managed to hold on to defeat the Big Bash table leaders. BBL leading wicket-taker Jhye Richardson then iced off the tail to end with four wickets and claim Man of the Match honors.
Top Doggett with the ball
Having ridden the bench for the first eight matches, Doggett finally got a chance in the XI in place of Arjun Nair. In four overs, he managed to surpass his entire contribution from the 2019-20 season when he scratched out just three wickets in eight matches.
Coming on at first change in the third over, Doggett was effective at banging the ball in back of a length to claim a pair of English openers. Liam Livingstone was the first to fall, skying an attempted heave over midwicket that swirled behind the stumps to Billings. Doggett teamed up with Billings again five balls later when Jason Roy was defeated trying to swat him over cover.
Doggett came close to dismissing Josh Inglis in his next over but a difficult one-handed chance at third man was shelled by Tanveer Sangha. However, Doggett claimed him two balls before the mid-innings break, spearing in a yorker to clatter middle stump. Doggett showed off his complete bag of tricks deceiving Mitchell Marsh in the 13th with a slower ball to round off his haul at 86 for 4.
But the rest of the Thunder bowling unit failed to support Doggett’s efforts. Munro and captain Ashton Turner combined for a 55-run stand before Richardson and Aaron Hardie teamed for a stirring 14-ball stand of 31 as the Scorchers carved out 99 runs off the last 7.3 overs to go into the break with all the momentum.
Sam Billings’ 83 unable to lift Thunder past Scorchers
Top Billings with the bat
After Richardson claimed Usman Khawaja with a skier in the third over, Jason Behrendorff claimed Alex Hales and Callum Ferguson in back-to-back overs to stunt the Thunder reply. Behrendoff then helped enact a wild third wicket off his own bowling to end the sixth over when Alex Ross was run-out without facing a ball as the keeper Inglis hustled to square leg to deny a second run for Billings with a relay to the bowler’s end.
Billings managed to settle down with Cutting afterward as the two fought back during a sensational stand. On a pitch that did little to assist spinners on the night, the English batsman targeted Fawad Ahmed in the 13th with back-to-back sixes heaved over long-on, followed by a two to bring up his 50 off 29 balls. He survived a close shave early in the 14th over, slashing Hardie just short of Richardson charging in from deep third man.
Cutting mostly focused on turning over the strike during the stand but drove Hardie over cover and then flicked a full toss off his knees over square leg in the 14th to put pressure on the Scorchers attack. With 67 off the last six overs, the Power Surge was taken to start the 15th over and Billings began the sequence with a pair of boundaries against Tye before the Scorchers struck back.
Tyed down at the finish
Having cut the equation down to a very manageable 57 off 34 balls, Cutting threw his wicket away by upper cutting a short ball to Livingstone at sweeper cover. Richardson continued to mitigate damage in the second over of the Power Surge when he had Nathan McAndrew flicking a full ball off his pads to deep midwicket, making it twice that the Thunder managed to pick out one of the only two boundary riders during the fielding restriction sequence.
Billings punched back against Hardie in the 17th, whipping a length ball for six over the leg side followed by a full toss flicked behind square for another boundary in a 13-run over. A bouncer hooked for four over fine leg against Marsh in the 18th ended an 11-run over, sandwiched around the wicket of Chris Green, that left the match evenly balanced with 25 needed off 12 balls with just three wickets in hand.
Tye then showed his value at the death by winning a duel with Billings. After thumping him in the chest with a short ball that Billings failed to scoop over fine leg, Tye speared in a wide yorker that Billings mistimed shuffling well outside off stump and the result was a drag on back onto the stumps to end his innings. Doggett could only manage one run off the rest of the 19th over, leaving 23 to get off Richardson. The BBL’s leading wicket-taker kept his cool, claiming Adam Milne with a bouncer before a yorker on the last ball wiped out Doggett.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna