BBL 05 Semi-Final 2: Pietersen's fireworks propel Melbourne Stars into the BBL final
Pietersen chose the apt time to reach his peak form in the BBL, as his 36-ball 62 helped Melbourne Stars advance to their first BBL final.
The magnanimity of a BBL semi-final and the pressure of being the defending champions perhaps got the better of Perth Scorchers as they stuttered and stumbled on their way to an 8-wicket defeat at the hands of Melbourne Stars- who were propelled by a big-match special by Kevin Pietersen- at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
With this win, the Stars have booked their berth for the final where they would clash with Sydney Thunder who ousted Adelaide Strikers 24 hours back.
Scorchers’ innings sans momentum
After being asked to bat by the Stars, the Scorchers lost their opener Marcus Harris in the first over, caught by Rob Quiney off Daniel Worrall. Worrall then returned to strike again in the fifth over to send back Michael Carberry, who was caught behind by the wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb to reduce the reigning champions to 30/2.
The lynchpins of the Scorchers line-up- Michael Klinger, and the captain, Adam Voges- then started weathering the storm, and did it with some ease, as the duo shared a 79-run partnership, which happened to be the only thing worth talking about throughout the Scorchers’ innings.
Voges top-scored with 52 and Klinger made 44 with 8 boundaries being hit between them. Together, they took their side to 109 in 16 overs, and just when it looked that the seasoned veterans would think of accelerating, Adam Zampa struck for the Stars on the last ball of the 16th and dismissed Klinger to halt the momentum the Scorchers had picked up, something which the 4-time finalists couldn't gather in their remaining four overs.
English all-rounder David Willey departed for a first-ball duck off the very next ball, and the fulcrum of their innings, Voges, walked back in the next over while trying to clear the fence, thereby abruptly dissuading the rhythm of their innings. Marcus Stoinis and Michael Beer accounted for their wickets.
An almost-taken catch by Ben Hilfenhaus and a catch neatly taken, albeit over the ropes, by Rob Quiney, helped the Scorchers reach 139/7.
The Kevin Pietersen show
In reply, although the Stars were tied up to an extent in the first few overs by some tight bowling from the champions- that also resulted in Luke Wright’s wicket- but the arrival of Kevin Pietersen, thereafter, changed things, as he and Marcus Stoinis strolled through the lion’s share of the chase with their 79-run stand for the second wicket.
Pietersen had made his intentions crystal clear by striking two fours off Jason Beherendoff immediately upon his arrival. Stoinis hit three more of those in the next over at the expense of Andrew Tye and suddenly, the Stars were off to a flier.
Although the experienced Brad Hogg, along with Ashton Agar and Joel Paris tried to control the flow runs, they couldn’t curtail the singles and doubles, and that was good enough for Stars who were chasing only 140. By the time Stoinis was dismissed by Hogg in the 12th over, the damage done was irreparable.
David Willey, who was chirping a bit when his fellow Englishman arrived at the crease, was given some treatment in the 15th over, when Pietersen deposited him into the stands, not once, but twice, the first one of which can be safely termed as the ‘broomstick’ shot. Pietersen shuffled across the stumps, picked up the ball from outside off, and slammed it over fine-leg through a standing sweep shot, not much different from the way one sweeps the floor using a broomstick.
He completed his fifty in the next over, before launching Paris for a four and a six in the 17th. Although the Englishman couldn’t see the side home as he was bowled in the same over for 62, his captain, David Hussey, did it for him to eliminate the defending champs and set-up the final clash with Syndey Thunder on January 24 at the same venue.
Brief Scores: Melbourne Stars (toss) 140/3 (Pietersen 62, Hogg 1/20) beat Perth Scorchers 139/7 (Voges 52, Worrall 3/25) by 7 wickets.
Man of the match: Kevin Pietersen.