26/02/2024

Scorchers skipper Ashton Turner helped his side another BBL Final with a powerful innings on Saturday. (Picture: @ScorchersBBL / Twitter)

Perth has secured a historic eighth Final berth on the back of a career-best BBL knock from skipper Ashton Turner.

The Scorchers (3-154) will be going for championship number five next week after taking care of the Sixers (8-151) by seven wickets in a clinical performance in Saturday night’s Qualifier at Optus Stadium.

The home side was looking in trouble after the powerplay at 3-22 following a searing spell from Sean Abbott (3-25).

But an unbeaten 132-run partnership from captain Ashton Turner and Cameron Bancroft saw Perth quickly regain control before cruising to victory.

Turner’s unbeaten knock of 84 runs off just 47 balls was not only his highest-ever score in the BBL, but it was enough for him to pass Mitch Marsh as the club’s all-time leading run-scorer.

Turner was supported beautifully by Bancroft (53*), who has a chance to claim his first-ever BBL title after initially being left out of the side earlier this season.

Perth’s bowlers got the job done in the first innings, despite pacemen Jyhe Richardson and Matthew Kelly both missing through injury.

Jason Behrendorff (2-17) struck early, taking the wickets of Josh Philippe and Kurtis Patterson during the powerplay.

Patterson was gone after some brilliance in the field from Aaron Hardie, who took to the sky to bring down an amazing one-handed catch.

But just three overs later the all-rounder had a moment to forget when he dropped a sitter to give Steve Smith a life.

Considering Smith’s recent world-class form it looked like a costly mistake, but the former Test captain only made six more runs before being caught and bowled by a diving David Payne (3-33) in the ninth over.

A collapse looked to be on, with Payne creating another opportunity later that same over after Andrew Tye put down Moises Henriques on 18. That dropped catch proved to be far more costly for the Scorchers, with the Sixers skipper combining with Jordan Silk (47) for an innings-resurrecting 88-run partnership.

The experienced duo were settled and doing damage in the power surge before Henriques was dismissed in the 17th over for a personal season-high score of 58.

The visitors had laid a solid foundation to see out the innings but collapsed down the stretch losing 4-22 to leave a target of 152 runs for Perth to chase down.

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The Sixers did early damage in the second innings during the powerplay, with Sean Abbott the chief destroyer.

After taking Stephen Eskinazi’s wicket in the second over, the right-armer struck with a double-wicket maiden in the fourth to dismiss two of the BBL’s top five highest run-scorers from this season.

Hardie was looking ominous before mistiming a ball to Dan Christian at mid-wicket, and two balls later Josh Inglis was gone for a duck after an outside edge carried through to Phillipe.

But the visitor’s hot start was quickly extinguished by Perth, who didn’t lose another wicket for the entire innings as Turner and Bancroft went into their work.

The duo quickly put pressure back on the visitors by rarely allowing a dot ball. They ran smartly between the wickets and always seemed to sneak a single even if the ball picked out a Sixers’ fielder inside the circle.

Turner and Bancroft rarely looked threatened as they built their partnership, leaving the Sixers to possibly rue their decision to include two spinners, Izharulhaq Naveed and Stephen O’Keefe, in their line-up.

Sydney’s chance to get back into the game came in the 12th over when Bancroft skied a ball straight up in the air. But the easy opportunity went begging after confusion between Josh Phillipe and Dan Christian led to the ball falling safely right between them.

The innings only got more out of hand for Sydney from that point onwards, with the team looking shaky in the field and making more mistakes after the major miscommunication.

Turner started to put his foot down and pulled out his bag of tricks during the power surge, as he and Bancroft chased down the total with nine balls to spare.

The Scorchers have a week off before hosting the winner of the Challenger in next Saturday’s Final.

The Sixers will host the Challenger next Thursday. Their opponent will be the winner of Sunday’s Knockout between the Renegades and Heat.

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