The two teams were up against each other in the inaugural season of the tournament, in 2011-12, with the SCG based franchise coming up trumps. Three seasons later, in 2014-15, the Scorchers had their revenge, claiming back-to-back Big Bash titles with a comprehensive victory over the Sixers. Who will turn second time lucky?
Under the coaching of Justin Langer, Scorchers have turned out to be one formidable all-round unit, consistent with the bat as well as the ball. They have lost several of their star players to injuries with almost their entire pace bowling line-up being wiped out. Jason Behrendoff, Joel Paris and Nathan Coulter-Nile were ruled out of the tournament with various injuries – although the first named has since then made a remarkable recovery and might well feature in the final. Mitchell Marsh featured in a few games before national call-up and then an injury put him out for the rest of the tournament.
Despite losing several of their big ticket players, the Scorchers have found match-winners along the way as they serenely progressed to the title round. Michael Klinger has starred with the bat and has found support from the rest of the batting unit. Adam Voges, the captain, is back after recovering from injury – a huge factor that strengthens the Scorchers’ cause. However, if there’s a worry, it will be the absence of Shaun Marsh – who has linked up with the national squad for the Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand and as such will miss the final.
While batting remains compact, Mitchell Johnson’s fiery spells during the powerplay overs have been the story of the season. The former Australian pacer is back to his best and his spell of 3 for 3 against Melbourne Stars in the semifinal was a performance that reminded people of the Johnson of 2013-14 Ashes series.The left-arm pacer leads the wicket-tally for Scorchers with 12, but it is his pace and hostility that has given them the early advantage in several games.
Road to the Final
While Scorchers finished as group toppers and cruised through to the knockout phase of the tournament, Sixers took the difficult path to the final. In what was a largely up and down tournament, they found form during the later stages of the league phase. They left it late during the must-win encounter against Stars and nearly squandered a winning position against Brisbane Heat in the semifinal – overcoming Brendon McCullum’s men after an one-over eliminator.
Moises Henriques, the captain, led from the front with the bat in the semifinal and was well supported by the consistent, Marcus Harris, who until this season was a part of the Perth Scorchers. While the middle-order has fumbled, the lower-order has kept the team alive – with significant and match-winning contributions.
While batting remains a cause of concern, Sixers have been one of the better bowling units of the tournament. With 20 wickets to his kitty, Sean Abbott is the runaway leader in the bowling charts while Ben Dwarshius with 13 has proved to be an ideal foil. Add the spin twins, Johan Botha and Nathan Lyon, Sixers have plenty of class and form in the bowling department.
Road to the Final
The Sixers got the better of the Scorchers in their only league meeting this season.
When: Perth Scorchers v Sydney Sixers, Final, 16.15 Local time, 1.45 PM IST
Where: Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground, Perth
What to expect: A very hot and sunny day is expected in Perth with maximum temperatures rising to as much as 38 degrees Celsius. Easterly winds should bring some relief for the players though.
Perth Scorchers: Both squads have announced changes to their 13-man squad for the final. The Scorchers will miss the services Shaun Marsh, who has been included for the three-match One Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand. However, they will welcome back Jason Behrendoff, after the left-arm pacer overcame a fibula injury.
Hilton Cartwright is expected to replace Marsh while Behrendoff might be included in the playing eleven at the expense of Jhye Richardson.
Sydney Sixers: The Sixers have made a change to their 13-man squad as well with Henry Thornton replacing Colin Munro, who had to go back for commitments with New Zealand. Jordan Silk is expected to replace Munro in the playing eleven.
Perth Scorchers: Sam Whiteman(w), Michael Klinger, Adam Voges(c), Ian Bell, Ashton Turner, Ashton Agar, Andrew Tye, Mitchell Johnson, Cameron Bancroft, Jhye Richardson, Tim Bresnan, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright
Sydney Sixers: Daniel Hughes, Michael Lumb, Nic Maddinson, Moises Henriques(c), Brad Haddin(w), Johan Botha, Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, Jordan Silk, Henry Thornton