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Scorchers too powerful, Sixers second chance in the Challenger Final this Wednesday

23 January 2022

A brilliant opening partnership from Kurtis Patterson and Josh Inglis and inspired bowling display saw the defending champions soundly beaten by 48 runs

A return to form for Australia's back-up wicketkeeper Josh Inglis and a disastrous collapse from the Sydney Sixers top order has powered the Perth Scorchers into the KFC BBL|11 decider.

The match was all but done in the ninth over of the defending champions' pursuit of 190 as they slumped to 5-33 with Josh Philippe, Justin Avendano, Jordan Silk, debutant Nick Bertus and Dan Christian all back in the sheds for single figures.

When Moises Henriques (17) fell just after the halfway mark the remaining nine overs were just a formality, and an opportunity for Ben Dwarshuis to provide some later entertainment with a maiden fifty but the Sixers were bowled out for 141 in the final over.

Inglis, in his second match back in the Big Bash after spending the first half of January with the Test squad, hit his highest score for the Scorchers with 79 from 79 balls as he anchored their imposing total of 3-189.

The 26-year-old and Kurtis Patterson (64 off 41) slammed on an opening stand of 120 at a rate of 10 runs an over after skipper Ashton Turner elected to bat first at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

The night got off to a chaotic start before a ball was even bowled in the Qualifier with the Sixers losing two of their top three batters within 75 minutes of the first delivery.

Jack Edwards was withdrawn after being deemed a COVID contact of his brother Mickey, who returned an "inconclusive" COVID-19 test result, while Daniel Hughes injured his ankle on the boundary rope while fielding in the warm-up and was replaced in the selected XI by Bertus 15 minutes before the first ball.

The pre-game drama may have unsettled the Sixers as Inglis and Patterson took 58 from the first six overs, with Test spinner Nathan Lyon conceding 14 from an over and the usually miserly Steve O'Keefe going for 12 from his first.

Patterson struck the ball powerfully square of the wicket as he registered his fourth half century of the tournament, while Inglis got going for the first time this year following four single-figure scores before being summoned into the Ashes squad as COVID cover.

It took the Sixers until the 13th over to break the partnership when Hayden Kerr (2-37) induced a mis-timed slog from Patterson who departed for 64 from 41 balls.

The impressive young allrounder was the Sixers only multiple wicket taker and moved within three of Peter Siddle (27 wickets) as the tournament's leading bowler.

Inglis played both a powerful and delicate knock, smashing O'Keefe 10 rows back over midwicket, while also playing ramps and a remarkable reverse lap for four off Kerr.

The right-hander, who was part of Australia's T20 World Cup squad last year, was eventually out for 79 (49) in the 18th over, beating his previous his highest Big Bash score of 73.

Mitch Marsh crunched four boundaries in his 28 as he and New Zealand import Colin Munro (12no) lifted the total towards 200.

Marsh innings, however, was soured by "hamstring tightness" which prevented him from taking any further part in the field but he told cricket.com.au after the match he was confident he would be fine to play in the final on Friday, a view shared by Scorchers coach Adam Voges.

"Just a bit of tightness from what I can understand," Voges said. "I had a good chat with our physio and he seems to think it's at the minor end of some tightness.

"All his strength testing was pretty good, so (it was) cautionary to not put him on the field. We'll monitor him over the next little bit and hopefully he'll be okay."

The Sixers were unusually sloppy in the field, with Lyon spilling a chance off the bat of Munro, while Bertus dropped Marsh at backward point in what could have been the catch of the summer if he had hung on. Kerr also let through a boundary in the second last over when he misfielded a powerfully struck Marsh cover drive.

In reply, the Scorchers attack never gave the Sixers a chance with only leg-spinner Peter Hatzoglou conceding more than seven runs an over in a remarkable team performance.

Jhye Richardson, who returned to the Scorchers side following the conclusion of the Ashes, Jason Behrendorff, AJ Tye and Ash Agar all took two wickets each.

The Scorchers now have a six-day break, which comes on the back of their five-day break prior to tonight, as they await their BBL|11 final opponent, with the decider to be played on Friday night at Marvel Stadium.

The Sixers will return to the SCG on Wednesday for another shot at making it to the decider against either the Thunder or Strikers who play tomorrow night at the MCG.

They will be sweating the results of the Edwards' brother's COVID tests and Hughes ankle injury as to whether they can take any further part in the tournament.