Mitchell Johnson produced one of the greatest bowling displays ever seen in BBL history to lead the Perth Scorchers to a seven-wicket victory over the Melbourne Stars in Tuesday night’s semi-final at the WACA Ground.
Johnson claimed two wickets in the first over of the match, before finishing with the astonishing figures of 3-3 from four overs as the Stars limped to 8-136.
In reply, the Scorchers cruised to 3-139 with 19 balls to spare, with the win securing the two-time champions a home final against either the Sydney Sixers or Brisbane Heat.
Mitch Johnson has 3-0.
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 24, 2017
Shaun Marsh (56no off 44 balls) and Sam Whiteman (31 off 26) combined for a 54-run partnership to help steer the Scorchers to victory following the early loss of Michael Klinger.
Stars import Kevin Pietersen, who scored just five with the bat, injured his right hamstring while fielding.
Johnson’s early onslaught saw the Stars slump to 4-26, forcing Seb Gotch (48 off 47 balls) and David Hussey (26 off 20) to launch a rescue mission.
But the Stars’ total wasn’t nearly enough in the high-stakes clash.
Johnson struck gold with the first ball of the innings when Rob Quiney was caught at fine leg for a golden duck.
Then three balls later, Luke Wright was also gone for nought when Ashton Turner took a sharp catch at gully, leaving the Stars at 2-0.
Johnson heaped more pressure on the Stars with a series of dot balls.
And a frustrated Pietersen eventually cracked, popping an easy catch to mid-wicket.
The first run Johnson conceded didn’t come until the final ball of his third over.
And by the time Johnson finished his four-over spell, Melbourne were in all sorts of strife at 4-28.
Johnson’s return of 3-3 was the equal third most economical figures in world T20 cricket, with only Chris Morris (2-2) and Chanaka Welegedara (4-2) conceding less runs over four overs.
Johnson received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd upon the completion of his fourth over.
The Stars needed quick wickets if they were to have any chance of winning.
The Scorchers should have been 2-27 when Whiteman edged a catch to the wicketkeeper.
But he was given not out by the umpire, much to the displeasure of Pietersen, who labelled the decision an absolute shocker.
Whiteman later hinted he had in fact edged the ball.
“There definitely was a sound,” Whiteman said with a smile.
“We’re not all like Gilly (Adam Gilchrist)”.
It was the fourth time in five semi-final meetings the Scorchers have beaten the Stars.