The fourth season of the Big Bash League got the final it deserved at the Manuka Oval in Canberra as Perth Scorchers sealed their second consecutive BBL title in one of the most thrilling T20 matches you could ever wish to see.
In the end, 35 matches came down to one over, and then just one ball and one run as Scorchers scrambled a single off the last delivery of the match to complete their chase of Sydney Sixers’ 5 for 147 with four wickets standing.
Scorchers required eight off the final over, bowled by Brett Lee who was playing his last professional match. An outrageous scoop-shovel four from Michael Carberry off the first ball of the over halved the equation before a two and a one off the following balls left Scorchers just one short with three balls remaining. An amazing match still had one final twist left in it as Lee bowled Nathan Coulter-Nile and Sam Whiteman with two searing yorkers, followed by his vein-throbbing chainsaw celebration one final time.
The two wickets left the Scorchers requiring one run off one ball. Sporting theatre has rarely seen better. The ball, full and fast, was squeezed out onto the leg side by Yasir Arafat who hurtled towards the other end. The ball was pinged in from midwicket on the bounce where Moises Henriques stood over the stumps. As Arafat stretched for the crease the ball crashed into the palms of Henriques and out the other side, spilling away behind him as his hands, with no ball in them, broke the stumps even as Arafat bolted past him and the Scorchers players and staff charged onto the ground. They are the first team to defend their BBL title, and with four final appearances and four Champions League T20 appearances they are becoming one of the most successful T20 teams in history.
The Scorchers chase had been on a far more serene course earlier with an opening partnership of 70 between Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh putting the Scorchers well on track for victory. However, the required run-rate, which began at 7.4 never once fell below 7.5 for the entire innings. Klinger and Marsh had provided a platform but they had left their team with work to do. The partnership was ended in the twelfth over when Klinger was caught by Sean Abbott off Lee.
Adam Voges then joined Marsh and added 43 runs before he fell for a 13-ball 20. Again, it was a useful partnership but there was still work to be done. As long as Marsh was there, though, you sensed Scorchers would be okay.
Henriques’ decision to throw the ball to Nathan Lyon in the penultimate over was a bold one, but it was justified by the first ball when he ended Marsh’s anchoring innings, a 59-ball 73, the batsman holing out on the midwicket boundary. Two balls later the Scorchers chase was pegged back further when Ashton Turner was also caught on the midwicket boundary. The new man Coulter-Nile thumped a huge six off the final ball of the over to set up the jaw-dropping final over.
It was Henriques who in the end made the mistake that cost Sixers a tie and a Super Over, but earlier it was his wonderfully paced 77 off 57 that was to thank for them setting as many as they did.
Sixers, having chose to bat, got off to a terrible start when they were 2 for 7 after three overs, and then 4 for 49 after 9.2. Michael Lumb, Riki Wessels, Nic Maddinson and Jordan Silk the men to fall.
However, Henriques, who scored 35 from his first 38 deliveries, rebuilt the innings alongside Ryan Carters, who finished 35 not out off 25.
Scorchers, a strong and well-practiced bowling side, yet again bowled brilliantly, but Henriques’ patience was rewarded when he accelerated to score 42 from his final 19 deliveries including two sixes and three fours. He was dismissed off the final ball of the innings. Sixers, having scored 4 for 53 off the first ten overs, managed 1 for 94 off their final ten overs to set up the Scorchers pulsating chase.