Perth have qualified for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in extraordinary circumstances at the SCG after an extended rain delay had put them on the brink of elimination in the BBL semi-final against the Sydney Sixers on Wednesday night.
The Scorchers escaped with a thrilling but bizarre five-run Duckworth-Lewis victory and will host Hobart in Friday’s final, after Sixers’ opener Nic Maddinson (36 off 16) fell agonisingly short of leading a heroic reduced run-chase of 54 off five overs.
Sent into bat, Perth powered to an imposing total of 5-193 – the second biggest at the SCG – thanks to another blazing century from opener Craig Simmons (112 off 58).
However, they were then forced to watch on as the skies opened and play looked unlikely to restart with rain hitting the city.
Play went within one minute of being abandoned and the Sixers being gifted a hollow ticket through to the final and lucrative Champions League before the covers came off and Sydney were told they needed 10.8 an over to win.
Opener Maddinson hammered five fours and a six to bring Sydney within seven runs with two balls remaining – after he’d been dropped by substitute fielder Hilton Cartwright early in his innings.
However, Cartwright – on for Simmons who had hurt his groin – went from villain to hero when he ran out Maddinson on the penultimate ball.
Needing six off the last ball to force the second super over between the two sides this year – Brett Lee had an air swing off Nathan Coulter-Nile and the Scorchers celebrated qualifying for their third straight BBL final appearance.
Jason Behrendorff (2-5) and Pat Cummins (2-6) kept their cool for Perth.
“Sensational, we’re back home for another final,” said Scorchers veteran Brad Hogg.
Five overs were needed to constitute a match, and play restarted at 10.35pm, one minute before it would have been abandoned.
Any further rain and it would have also been abandoned and the Sixers through based on their superior finishing position on the table.
It was the second upset in the semi-finals, after the Hurricanes caused a boilover against minor-premiers Melbourne Stars on Tuesday night.
Perth are yet to win a BBL title, but will be hoping it’s third time lucky.
Sydney were cost a second Champions League appearance – after they won the tournament and the BBL in 2012.
The Scorchers were going to take some stopping after Simmons’ heroics, however the rain gave the Sixers little time to build their innings.
Perth felt the pressure with Cartwright dropping a sitter off Maddinson at cover when Sydney were 1-8 before they made errors in the field in the slippery conditions.
Simmons smashed 11 sixes in his stunning 112 – the equal second highest score in BBL history.
For Simmons, the 31-year-old veteran who has a full-time job laying power lines in Perth, it was his second century in as many weeks.
After a slow start where he scored just five runs from his first 15 balls, the powerful left-hander awoke from the dead like Lazarus – hammering his second 50 runs from just 16 balls.
Born down the road from the SCG in Paddington, Simmons looked like he was aiming for his old suburb as he crunched 10 of his sixes within 28 balls – most of them over mid-wicket and cover.
Supported by Simon Katich (26) and Adam Voges (31), Simmons surged past Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk (14) for most sixes in the tournament (19) and gave Perth all the momentum.