Stars see off Scorchers to secure home semi-final
A fine bowling display helped Melbourne Stars reach the Big Bash League's last four - where they will enjoy home advantage - thanks to a 52-run success against Perth Scorchers on Saturday.
Despite dropping to fourth place due to Sydney Thunder's earlier win against Sydney Sixers, the Stars knew a comprehensive victory at the WACA would see them seal their place in the semi-finals, with the added bonus of a home fixture.
After a poor start saw them reduced to 55-4, the Stars recovered sufficiently to post a competitive if unimposing total of 146-9, underpinned by captain David Hussey's 36 and further contributions from Rob Quiney (21) and Evan Gulbis (25).
Defending a relatively modest score, the Stars needed an excellent performance in the field and they duly delivered as the opening attack of Daniel Worrall (3-15) and Ben Hilfenhaus (3-17) prospered, well supported by the leg-spin of Adam Zampa (2-16).
At 34-5, the already-qualified Scorchers were never in with a realistic chance of obtaining their target, and instead focused on the 109 they needed to secure a home semi.
But, with only skipper Adam Voges (46 not out) making a significant score, the defending champions crumbled to 94 all out to relinquish any home advantage in the last four.
It looked as though the Stars would have their work cut out when they lost Luke Wright (14), Marcus Stoinis (5) and Kevin Pietersen (8) all inside the six-over powerplay.
A partnership of 40 for the fifth wicket between Hussey and Quiney (21) helped rebuild the innings somewhat, before Gulbis' unbeaten 25 from 21 balls boosted the total further. Andrew Tye (2-25) was the pick of the bowlers for the Scorchers.
In reply, the Scorchers also failed to make the most of the fielding restrictions within the first six overs and found themselves floundering at 26-4 thanks to Worrall and Hilfenhaus.
And although Voges did his best to provide some stability, the captain inevitably ran out of partners as the Stars sealed their semi-final berth in emphatic style.