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Hilton Cartwright and Ashton Agar // Getty Images


Scorchers Strike To Replace Adelaide At Top Of Table

13 January 2018

The Perth Scorchers have defied the odds to claim the inaugural Jason Gillespie Trophy and move to the top of the 2017-18 KFC Big Bash League table, recording a six-wicket win over former ladder-leaders the Adelaide Strikers at Traeger Park in Alice Springs.

The Scorchers received a blow on the eve of the blockbuster between the competition's top two sides, when they were informed that captain Adam Voges had been suspended for a second strike due to slow over rate, further testing the depth of a side already missing a host of experienced players.

However, after winning the toss and electing to bowl, interim skipper Ashton Turner led the team to a dominant performance with the ball, bowling the Strikers out for 112, with Ashton Agar (3-19(4) and 26 not out off 29) playing a pivotal role in both innings, as the Scorchers chased the total down in 18.2 overs.

The result had the Scorchers claim the first Jason Gillespie Trophy, which will be played for between the two sides in Strikers home games.

The win was also invaluable to Perth in its Championship defence, limiting Adelaide's ability to break from the pack and moving the Scorchers (12pts) clear by two points on top of the table with a 6-2 record, however, the second-placed Strikers have a game in hand.

The Scorchers opened the game well, with a return to their characteristically tight bowling.

The dual left-arm pace attack of Mitchell Johnson (0-22(4)) and Joel Paris (1-33(4)) constricted the Strikers' openers to 35 with two balls left in the powerplay, before Alex Carey (44 off 32) hit consecutive sixes off the latter.

However, the Scorchers struck back a couple of balls later, with Will Bosisto (1-9(2)) trapping Jake Wetherald (19 off 21) to have Adelaide 1-49.

The change to spin helped Perth make further in-roads in the next over, with Strikers captain Colin Ingram (three off five) holing out to deep mid wicket off Agar.

The Strikers began rebuilding from 2-56 through Carey and Jonathan Wells (10 off nine), before Matt Kelly's 12th over proved pivotal for the Scorchers.

The first ball produced some sharp fielding and even better keeping from Cameron Bancroft to effect the run out of Wells, before a slow, penultimate ball lured Carey into looping a catch to long off for the big breakthrough.

The Strikers found themselves on 4-80 and had added just one run when Agar joined the wicket-takers, with Johnson taking an acrobatic one-handed catch off a mistimed ramp attempt to dismiss Jake Lehmann (one off five).

It had taken Adelaide four overs to make just 10 runs as the innings entered its final quarter block and the pressure appeared to be building on the batting side, as they fell to 6-92 with Michael Neser (five off six) sending a catch off Kelly to deep mid wicket.

A flurry of wickets followed as the Strikers attempted to add runs and post a competitive total, but having lost 8-33, the hosts were under pressure and managed just another 20, as they were dismissed for 112 in 19.2 overs.

Bosisto (three off nine) brought his usual attacking style to the chase, but fell early when he holed out to mid wicket off Michael Neser (2-18(3.2)).

Michael Klinger (17 off 13) and Bancroft (15 off 14) began building a threatening partnership, but Neser had his second wicket when the former was dismissed by an aerobatic diving catch from Ben Laughlin at mid off.

The dismissal brought Bancroft and Hilton Cartwright (47 not out off 44) together, with the pair fresh off their Club record fifth-wicket stand of 137 not out against the Sydney Thunder on Thursday, but there was to be no repeat of those heroics.

Bancroft was beginning to impose himself on the game when he mistimed a Peter Siddle (1-25(4)) delivery, sending a catch to mid wicket to have the Scorchers 3-42, still needing 71 for victory in the eighth over.

Momentum had swung firmly back to the Strikers the next over when dangerous spinner Rashid Khan (1-15(4)) found his way through the defences of Ashton Turner (one off two), castling the batter to have Perth 4-43.

Cartwright and Agar provided the cool heads required in the situation and helped recover the Scorchers' innings, with the pair pulling back on the lofty strokes to build a match-winning 71-run partnership.

The Scorchers' hearts were in their mouths when Cartwright, on 28 at the time and his side 4-90, flicked a Siddle delivery off his pads and picked out the fielder at deep square leg, only for a no ball to be called.

The batter capitalised on the gifted life and free hit by powering a maximum down the ground, reducing the equation for victory to 15 off 27 balls, with the pair accounting for the total without further loss and 10 balls to spare.

The Scorchers now have a week's break between matches, returning to action at #TheFurnace on Saturday to host the Hobart Hurricanes.