Perth Scorchers opened their Big Bash League account with a remarkable six-run victory over Melbourne Renegades at the WACA Ground on Thursday night.
The Scorchers’ depleted batting line-up failed to fire in the absence of injured veteran Adam Voges and West Indies import Dwayne Smith, who pulled out of the tournament due to personal reasons.
The home side went 14 overs without a boundary and a full innings without a six to finish with a disappointing 7-117 after winning the toss and electing to bat.
But they responded with the ball, weathering an early storm before tearing the Renegades’ middle order apart to restrict the visitors to 8-111.
In fighting their way to what had seemed an unlikely win, the Scorchers set a new record for the lowest total defended in a Big Bash League match not affected by rain, breaking their own record (136) set two years ago against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
Pakistani import Yasir Arafat was the hero on his Scorchers debut, taking 3-15 from his four overs to be the chief destroyer with the ball just three days after landing in Australia as a late replacement for Smith.
Arafat, 31, played three Tests and 11 one-day internationals for Pakistan and represented several English county teams before answering the call from the Scorchers last week.
He executed his plan to bowl full to the Renegades batsmen after taking advice from former Somerset and now Scorchers teammate Alfonso Thomas, and was awarded man-of-the-match honours in front of 15,953 fans.
“It’s a nice feeling to do well for the team and get man-of-the-match in the first game,” Arafat said.
“I was chatting to all the players who have been bowling on this track, especially Alfonso Thomas and (coach) Justin Langer.
“They told me where to bowl, especially on this bouncy and seaming track.
“The ball was seaming and the plan was to bowl up to the batsmen, rather than bowl short, which paid off in the end.”
Renegades openers Alex Doolan and Aaron Finch blasted 38 off the first four overs to put the visitors in a comfortable position before Arafat made the first breakthrough for the Scorchers.
The right-arm quick dismissed Finch (15) and Jason Behrendorff (1-24) sent Doolan (21) packing before Mitch Marsh (2-15) put the Scorchers right back in the contest.
Marsh, who starred with 57 not out against Brisbane Heat last week, took two wickets in his first over, the 10th of the Renegades’ innings, to reduce the visitors to 4-58.
The middle order crumbled, with four wickets falling for just 26 runs in six overs.
But the Scorchers didn’t looked in control until a mix-up between Will Sheridan and Nathan Rimmington led to the latter being run out for four with the score at 7-91.
Needing 27 from the final three overs, the Renegades’ tailenders couldn’t get the job done.
Earlier, openers Shaun Marsh (31) and Simon Katich (29) top-scored as the Scorchers limped to their lowest first innings total since being skittled for 69 by Melbourne Stars a year ago.
It was the first win of the season for the Scorchers, who squared their win-loss record at 1-1 after losing to Brisbane at the Gabba in the opening round.