Shaun Marsh is the leading runscorer in the Big Bash. Picture: Daniel Wilkins/news.com.au
The Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat will fight it out at the WACA on Saturday, with the winner to be crowned 2012/13 Big Bash Champions. Perth won five of its last six regular season matches to finish the season second on the ladder, before booking a place in the decider with a thrilling last ball win over the Melbourne Stars on Wednesday. The Heat’s run to the final has been even more amazing. After only making the playoffs by net run rate following their win over the Hurricanes in the last regular season match, they then stunned the all-conquering Renegades with a 15 run win at Etihad Stadium in the first semi-final.
Retired Test star Mike Hussey hit the winning runs for Perth against the Stars but the victory was again set up by a blistering half century from Shaun Marsh . The left handed opener is the leading runscorer in the competition and has passed 50 in 5 of his eight matches this season, including all four at home and will again be the key to his side posting a winning total. With regular opening partner Herschelle Gibbs unlikely to play due to the hamstring strain that forced him to retire hurt against Melbourne, Marcus North could return to the top of the order, although Hussey has also filled that role with distinction in the past. If Gibbs is ruled out, Tom Triffitt is likely to return behind the stumps, after Hussey took the gloves against the Stars.
Like its opponent, Brisbane is sweating on the fitness of a key player, with skipper James Hopes racing the clock to be fit after going down with a hamstring injury warming up before his side’s semi-final win over the Renegades. His economical bowling has been vital in the middle overs but could be even more important if Ben Cutting – who is on standby with the Australian ODI squad – misses the match due to international duties. If he lines up at the Gabba against Sri Lanka on Friday, he will be unavailable to play in Perth the following day.
As much as the Scorchers have relied on Marsh for runs at the top of the order, Brisbane has ridden on the coattails of bad boy turned good Luke Pomersbach . Sacked by Western Australia for a series of off-field transgressions, the hard hitting opener has almost single handedly taken Brisbane to the decider. He has top scored in the past three games and smashed a match winning 112* in Melbourne during the week to take his tally to 194 runs from his past two visits to the crease. With Peter Forrest failing to make the most of his opportunities at the top of the order, ‘Pomers’ could have a new opening partner, with wicketkeeper batsman Chris Hartley a candidate for promotion.
Perth has won both previous meetings between these teams, although their nine wicket Duckworth/Lewis win at the Gabba last month came in controversial circumstances. Despite winning three in a row at the WACA, the Scorchers still don’t have the best record at the ground, having lost three in a row there – including last season’s final – before starting their current winning streak. Playing away from home holds no fears for the Heat who have won five of their past six on the road, including the past three.
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