Adelaide is in danger of missing the Big Bash finals after the Strikers suffered a fourth loss in a row, the top-of-the-table Perth Scorchers romping to a brutal seven-wicket win at Adelaide Oval on Friday.
The fifth-placed Strikers went into the key clash on a run of defeats where they struggled with the bat and the worrying decline continued, the home side bowled out for a season-worst 92 in 17 overs after choosing to bat first.
But while the Strikers were undoubtedly poor, the red-hot Scorchers were superb.
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Isa Guha called it a “devastating” performance, while Brad Haddin said it was a “brutal” display by the Scorchers who outplayed the Strikers in all facets of the game.
With star seamers Jason Behrendorff (rested) and Jhye Richardson (injured) absent, the Scorchers ripped through Adelaide’s top order, with Peter Hatzoglou, Lance Morris and David Payne all taking three wickets apiece.
Aaron Hardie belted three sixes in a game-high innings of 43, as the reigning champions chased down the target off 11.1 overs to improve their record to 10-3 and tighten their grip on top spot.
The Strikers’ finals chances might rest on their net run rate, set up by a strong start to the season with three wins, including the famous 124-run victory over the Sydney Thunder.
But even that won’t be enough without a win against the Melbourne Renegades in their last regular season game at Marvel Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Strikers made two changes, regaining Peter Siddle from injury and opting for an extra batter in Harry Nielsen to shore up their suddenly brittle batting.
The Scorchers bowled superbly from the outset, while the Strikers’ approach to the start of their innings could be most charitably described as ‘ill-advised’.
Runaway Golden Bat leader Matt Short didn’t add to his total after he danced down the wicket in the first over and Travis Head still hasn’t managed to crack double figures in three innings since returning from the Test side, the skipper holing out in the third over.
Rather than consolidate after a shaky start, Thomas Kelly, Alex Carey and Colin de Grandhomme threw the bat and did little more than provide catching practice.
Nielsen strode to the crease in the eighth over with the score 5-37, but departed trying and failing to clear the fence two overs later.
Adam Hose top-scored with 30, but he popped the easiest of return catches to Payne early in a power surge that yielded just 11 runs and two wickets.
“It hasn’t gone to plan,” Strikers coach Jason Gillespie told Fox Cricket.
“We felt we needed a bit more support with the batting.
“We just haven’t executed.
“It’s been a pretty poor display … there’s no hiding from that.”
Of the eight catches the visitors took, Cameron Bancroft’s running effort to dismiss Carey was the best.
Carey attempted to clear the short square boundary with a lusty swing in the fifth over, bowled by Hatzoglou, but he didn’t find the middle of his bat.
Fielding at deep mid-wicket, Bancroft took off at full pace to his left and dived to take a stunning two-handed catch at full stretch.
Hatzoglou was the pick of the Scorchers bowlers, while AJ Tye extended his lead in the Golden Arm with his 23rd wicket of the season.
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