Perth Scorchers v Sydney Sixers | Saturday, January 19, 7.15pm (AEDT), WACA, Perth
Perth’s effort to qualify for a fifth BBL final in the space of six seasons is a phenomenal achievement.
A mix of good bowling and good fortune saw the Scorchers jump all over the Stars early and dominate their semi-final from the opening over.
Mitchell Johnson (pictured above) had the crowd in a frenzy and sent statisticians scurrying for the record books with an opening burst that at one stage reaped the amazing figures of 3/0 off 17 deliveries.
While talk of an international comeback appears fanciful, the left-arm quick has thrived for the Scorchers this season in the absence of Jason Behrendorff.
Along with Tim Bresnan, Johnson gives the hosts some international quality in their attack and will surely have the Sixers' top order hopping around against the new ball.
Shaun Marsh worked his way into form over the back-end of the tournament and controlled their meagre chase with a measured, unbeaten 56.
Sadly though, he will be unavailable for the final having been called up to Australia’s ODI squad for the short tour to New Zealand.
With other changes unlikely, coach Justin Langer will probably bring in either recent Test debutant Hilton Cartwright or Cameron Bancroft.
That leaves more responsibility in the hands of Ian Bell (pictured above), who will likely move up to three.
The Scorchers also have a couple of old hands in Michael Klinger and Adam Voges who can be relied upon to show composure in tight situations, especially should a run chase eventuate.
The Sixers had an altogether different route to the final.
Seemingly cruising at 2/133 in pursuit of 168, a sudden batting collapse almost handed the Heat an improbable win until Ben Dwarshuis’ (pictured above) final ball two forced a super over.
Skipper Moises Henriques really came to the party by smacking Ben Cutting for several boundaries to leave Brisbane with too much to do.
Henriques had earlier top scored for his side with a forceful 64 off 34 and more than anyone will be desperate to play a big role in the final.
The all-rounder would have painful memories of the 2014/15 decider against the Scorchers after his failure to run out Yasir Arafat at the bowler’s end handed Perth a gripping, final ball victory.
The visitors will also be forced into at least one change with Colin Munro on Black Caps’ duty.
That may see Michael Lumb promoted to open once again, a role he has filled with distinction in the past and appears more naturally suited to.
Both Sean Abbott and Nathan Lyon claimed four scalps at the Gabba and loom as significant threats to the Scorchers' batting line-up.
Abbott, inparticular, has had a sensational tournament and deserves praise for his increasing maturity and dexterity.
The Sixers will take confidence from their regular season win over Perth at the SCG but will have a raucous, sell-out crowd to contend with.
Unibet Odds: Perth Scorchers 1.74 Sydney Sixers 2.10
Tip: Perth Scorchers
An historic Big Bash double is also up for grabs with the Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers women's teams also fighting it out for the WBBL crown before the men’s final.
Perth head into the decider on the back of a nine-wicket triumph over the Brisbane Heat on Tuesday while the Sixers blew away the Hobart Hurricanes by 103 runs on Wednesday with stand-in captain Alyssa Healy clubbing 77 and South African captain Dane van Niekerk snaring 3/15.
In a massive blow for the Sixers, the Sydney side will be without inspirational skipper and all-rounder Ellyse Perry (pictured above right) who will miss the final with a left hamstring injury.
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