Bancroft’s career-best beat Finch in Scorchers home finale

Perth Scorchers Defeated 212 for 5 (Bancroft 95*, Eskinazi 54). Melbourne Renegades 202 for 5 for 10 (Finch 76*, Marsh 54)

Cameron Bancroft Perth Scorchers scored a career-best 95 not out before surviving late on Aaron Finch Attack to take top spot on the BBL ladder after a dramatic 10-run win over Melbourne Renegades at Optus Stadium.

Finch, playing his 100th BBL game, was furious to put the Scorchers into bat as Bancroft capitalized on David Moody being quickly removed from the attack to deliver two dangerous waist-height deliveries in the second over.

Chasing 213, Finch’s late fireworks almost amassed a mammoth total but it wasn’t enough as the fourth-placed Renegades (6-7) remained in playoff contention.

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

It has been tough for teams batting first at the Optus Stadium this season where the surface has played sluggishly at times. As Perth’s temperature rises in recent days, the hardened surface moves to sunny conditions and Stephen EskinaziA boundary on the first ball of the innings showed what was ahead.

Eskinazi dominated early and took full advantage of a weak Renegades attack with innovative batting, including several scoops to the boundary, scoring 37 off his first 13 balls. Bancroft was mostly a spectator until he greeted WA team-mate Corey Rocchioli with two sixes off the spinner’s first three deliveries.

The openers scored 62 runs with Eskinazi in the powerplay. He didn’t go through with it but Bancroft continued to pillage a wayward Renegades attack.

Bancroft was mostly dropped early in the season as the Scorchers perhaps unconsciously preferred English recruit Adam Leith, who never got going. Perhaps more famous as a quiet long-format batsman, a feisty Bancroft has gone on the offensive this season marked by cavalier batting that has underlined his 50-ball battles.

Moody’s Horror Homecoming

It was a scary homecoming for Moody, the nephew of West Australian great Tom Moody. In a short-lived performance he would rather forget, Moody shared the new ball in the second over but only one legal delivery lasted in a nightmare.

Moody started well enough with a dot delivery until disaster struck when he bowled a wild full toss at 144kph that hit Bancroft in the rib cage and the batter needed treatment.

His next delivery was another full toss before a wide Moody which Eskinazi scooped for a boundary. It was deemed higher than waist height and Moody was summoned from the attack after conceding eight runs off a legal delivery to finish with an eye-popping economy rate of 48.

Without spearhead Kane Richardson, the Renegades’ more depleted attack was under great pressure and without Moody their best laid plans were derailed. They regained their only bright spot with a screamer by a catch Will Sutherlandwho showed his athleticism by pulling off a one-handed grab to dismiss Nick Hobson after running from mid-off.

Finch pulls off an almost unbelievable heist

The Renegades were dead and needed 68 from the last three overs until Finch struck back the clock with three consecutive sixes as seamer Andrew Tye was leaked for 31 in the 18th over.

The Renegades needed 37 runs in the last two overs but fell short in the end. Finch, however, showed that there was still something left in the tank with a 35-ball 76 and that too. Sean Marsh Who also scored a half century.

WA veteran Marsh made his first home return since suffering a hamstring injury against the Melbourne Stars on January 3. He showed no rust at the top of the order with four trademark glorious boundaries off his first seven deliveries and played fluently before Marsh fell for 54. 11th over.

Kelly’s bad hit

The Scorchers have an injury scare ahead of the playoffs, fearing a rash of injuries Matt Kellywho had to be ruled out of the match in the 15th over due to concussion.

In a frightening incident, Kelly was hit in the face after a throw from Hobson off the bat of Finch at the non-striker’s end. For a few seconds, Kelly lay still on the ground amid the stunned silence of the 32,000 crowd.

A bloodied Kelly finally got to his feet and walked off the ground in style and was replaced by legspinner Peter Hajtoglu, who was dropped for a collision with frontline spinner Ashton Agar. The Scorchers’ pace depth is enviable, with star Jhai Richardson quickly returning from a hamstring injury to replace Kelly against the Sixers.

Tristan Lovelett is a journalist based in Perth

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