Two of the Big Bash League’s heartbreak kids will do battle at the WACA on Friday night, as the Perth Scorchers host the Hobart Hurricanes in the quest for Australian T20 supremacy.
The Hurricanes were the early pacesetters in edition one of the tournament in 2011/12, but came unstuck in the semi-finals against the Sydney Sixers.
They subjected the previously unbeaten Melbourne Stars to the same fate on Tuesday night, when Tim Paine (65) and the handy of inclusion of George Bailey (32) – returning from international duty – guided them past the Stars’ total of 141 and into their first final.
If the Hurricanes served an apprenticeship in heartbreak during the first season, Perth have earned a PhD – winning the right to stage a home final in both editions before being trumped at the last hurdle.
The Scorchers made a sluggish start to this tournament, dropping two of their first three games before picking up momentum and winning four of their last five to finish third.
They were powered by a brilliant ton from Craig Simmons in Wednesday night’s Duckworth-Lewis win over the Sydney Sixers.
Simmons bludgeoned 112 of 58 balls to lift the Scorchers to 5-193, before the heavens opened and the Sixers were almost gifted free passage into a home final with an abandonment.
But the rain abated, and the Sixers fell just short in their revised chase of 54 off five overs.
Simmons has been a revelation, but he’s very hit and miss.
There have been the breathtaking centuries against the Adelaide Strikers and the Sixers, but he’s made just 19 in his other four innings combined.
Nevertheless, he shapes as a key man with the ability to take an attack apart.
Simon Katich, meanwhile, seems a safer bet to star in the final, with the veteran sitting second in the run-scoring charts with 308 at an average of 34.22.
But it’s the bloke who’s top of the pops who could hold the decisive blade. Hobart’s man of the series Ben ‘Slam’ Dunk is averaging 47.25, scoring 378 runs in his eight knocks.
Dismissing the 26-year-old from Innisfail early on will go a long way toward securing Perth their first BBL title, while Bailey, Paine and Travis Birt can also score hard and fast.
The Scorchers will be hampered by the absence of Yasir Arafat, whose 12 wickets and bowling at the death was key to their late season form.
That puts the pressure on pacemen Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins and Jason Behrendorff, while evergreen chinaman Brad Hogg can never be underestimated.
Seamer Ben Laughlin (14 wickets) and leg-spinner Cameron Boyce (10) will shoulder the burden of bowling expectation for the Hurricanes, in what should be a thrilling finale to third Big Bash.