Perth Scorchers 182 for 4 (Roy 54, Munro 46*) beat Melbourne Stars 171 for 6 (Larkin 70, Tye 2-28) by 11 runs
The Perth Scorchers continued their sizzling late-season form as Jason Roy's 28-ball half-century helped them move to the top of the table and clinch a playoff berth with an 11-run win over the Melbourne Stars. Roy teamed with Liam Livingstone for a bruising 83-run opening stand that put the Scorchers in control from wire to wire. Meanwhile, the Stars no longer control their own destiny for a playoff berth, needing a win over Sydney Sixers in their final match as well as some help from other results to fall in their favor in order to reach the knockout stage.
English tag-team torches Stars spinners
Roy and Livingstone's aggressive powerplay set the tone early on for the Scorchers as the decision by Stars captain Glenn Maxwell to use Adam Zampa and Zahir Khan during the fielding restrictions backfired spectacularly. After Billy Stanlake started off the match conceding three runs in the first over, Zahir and Zampa combined to leak 39 off the next 18 balls. Roy did the majority of the damage in the sequence, smacking four fours and a six, almost all of them driven straight down the ground as the slow-bowling pair erred going too full.
Zampa returned again in the ninth over for more punishment as Roy drove him inside-out over cover for another boundary to bring up his half-century. While Livingstone was content to rotate the strike earlier in the partnership, he struggled to build momentum the longer he was at the crease and finally fell in the 10th to Zahir, driving to long-off. However, he served a necessary function by staying out of Roy's way while his team-mate had the hot hand. Roy fell in the next over, miscuing a lofted drive off Nathan Coulter-Nile that was brilliantly caught by Maxwell running back from mid-off, but by that stage the Stars had too much work to do to recover from the hole their spinners had dug themselves into in the opening sequence of play.
Munro munches on Stars bowlers
The Stars looked like they might have a window back into the match as they restricted Colin Munro and Josh Inglis to 31 off the first 27 balls of their partnership, but Coulter-Nile leaked 20 off the 16th over - the second of the Power Surge - to put the Scorchers in control once more.
While Inglis fell in the 17th, Munro kicked on. He smashed Zampa over midwicket for six off the last ball of the 18th to spoil a wicket-taking over that claimed Mitchell Marsh. Then in the 19th he once again deflated Coulter-Nile with a last-ball reverse-swept boundary to cap a 17-run over. Stanlake - who went for just 19 off his four overs - ended the innings with some damage control, conceding just eight off the final over. Munro ended unbeaten on 46 off 30 balls and his unbroken 33-run stand off the last 16 balls with Ashton Turner kept the Scorchers ahead heading into the break.
Another top-order flameout for the Stars
Marcus Stoinis' inability to consistently convert his starts continued on Saturday as he reached 14 before holing out to long-on off Jason Behrendorff in the final over of the Powerplay. His opening partner Seb Gotch fell two overs later in clumsy circumstances, paying the price for a slip between the wickets while attempting a second run before his bat ultimately got stuck in the turf short of the crease.
But the killer blow came at the start of the eighth over. Fawad Ahmed was brought on for his first over of legspin and began with a rank half-tracker. Maxwell rocked back and pulverised the ball but laced it straight to Turner in the ring at short midwicket to fall for a fourth-ball duck.
With a run rate of less than a run a ball at that stage with the score 42 for 3, the Stars faced a significant uphill battle. Nick Larkin continued his promising form by pacing a steady rebuild with a 29-ball half-century, but wickets regularly fell at the opposite end to keep the Scorchers in front and with four overs left the Stars were still behind needing 59 to win. Tye bowled a superb death over in the 18th, conceding just six runs while claiming Larkin with an attempted scoop dragged back onto his stumps. Hilton Cartwright's belated efforts in the last two overs made the final margin look more flattering than it was.