Perth Scorchers 212/5 (Bancroft 95*, Eskinazi 54) beat Melbourne Renegades 202/5 (Finch 76*, Marsh 54) by 10 runs
Finch, playing his 100th match in the BBL, regretted putting the scorchers on the bat as Bancroft swiftly removed David Moody from the attack to bowl two dangerous waist-height deliveries in the second over.
Chasing 213, Finch’s late fireworks nearly hindered the mammoth total, but it was not enough as the fourth-placed Renegades (6-7) remained in the fight for a playoff spot.
The Scorchers will host arch-rivals Sydney Sixers in the qualifying final on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the home final on February 4.
Bancroft, Eskinazi smash shorthanded Renegades attack
This season it is going to be difficult for the teams batting first at the Optus Stadium as the surface gets sluggish at times. With temperatures rising in Perth in recent days, the hard surface yielded runs in sunny conditions and Stephen Eskinazi’s boundary on the first ball of the innings foreshadowed what lay ahead.
Eskinazi dominated early and took full advantage of the Renegades’ weak attack with inventive batting including several scoops to the boundary to score 37 off his first 13 balls. Bancroft remained mostly a spectator until he greeted WA teammate Corey Rocchioli with two sixes off the spinner’s first three balls.
The openers scored 62 off the powerplay with Esquinazi, soon after hitting another boundary, to bring up his half-century off just 26 balls. He couldn’t keep it up but Bancroft continued to plunder a wayward attack from the Renegades.
With Bancroft sidelined for most of the season earlier in the season, the Scorchers perhaps unwittingly preferred English recruit Adam Lyth, who could never get going. Perhaps more famous as a quiet longer format batsman, a gutsy Bancroft has been on the offensive this season, underlined by his combative 50-ball innings.
Moody’s Horror Homecoming
It was a scary homecoming for Moody, who is the nephew of Western Australian great Tom Moody. In a short-lived performance he would forget, Moody shared the new ball in the second over but lasted just one valid ball amid the nightmare.
Moody started well enough with a dot delivery until disaster struck when he bowled a wild full toss at 144 kmph that hit Bancroft’s rib cage and required medical attention to the batsman.
His next delivery was wide, before Moody delivered another full toss which was scooped by Eskinazi for a boundary. It was held above waist height and Moody was dropped from the attack after conceding eight runs off a legal delivery to end with an eye-popping economy rate of 48.
Finch pulls off an almost unbelievable robbery
The Renegades were dead last and needed 68 runs from the last three overs until Finch turned back the clock with three consecutive sixes as seamer Andrew Tye plundered 31 runs in the 18th over.
WA veteran Marsh returned home on January 3 in his first match back after a hamstring injury against the Melbourne Stars. He showed no fight in the top order with four trademark spectacular boundaries off his first seven balls and played fluently before Marsh fell for 54. 11th over.
kelly’s bad injury
The Scorchers have injury concerns ahead of the playoffs, with Matt Kelly being ruled out in the 15th over under concussion rules.
In a horror incident, Kelly was hit in the face when Hobson’s throw at the non-striker’s end deflected off Finch’s bat. For several seconds, Kelly lay motionless on the ground amid eerie silence from the 32,000 crowd.
A bloodied Kelly eventually got to his feet and was cautiously carried off the field and replaced by legspinner Peter Hajtoglu, who was dropped for a clash with frontline spinner Ashton Agar. The Scorchers have deep momentum if Kelly is ruled out against the Sixers, while star pacer Jhye Richardson is set to return from a hamstring injury.
Tristan Lovelett is a journalist based in Perth