Scorchers pip Stars at the post
Shaun Marsh glances behind as he gets an edge during his knock of 68. Photo: Getty Images
Paceman James Faulkner was left a shattered figure after his no-ball cost the Melbourne Stars victory in their rain-affected Twenty20 semi-final clash with Perth Scorchers at the WACA Ground on Wednesday.
In a remarkable contest, the Stars were in the box seat to host Saturday's grand final against Brisbane Heat after cracking 2-183 off 18 overs, with big-hitting duo Cameron White (88 off 53 balls) and Brad Hodge (70 not out off 43 balls) combining for 10 sixes and 12 fours.
Under the Duckworth-Lewis method, the Scorchers required 139 for victory off 13 overs, and finished at 2-142 after Mike Hussey struck a boundary on the final ball.
But it wasn't as simple as that.
Scorchers opener Herschelle Gibbs was forced to retire on seven due to a hamstring injury.
But Shaun Marsh turned the match on its head, cracking 68 off 40 balls to lift the Scorchers to within sight of victory in front of 17,903.
Debutant Alex Keath had a match he would like to forget, with Marsh taking 27 off the lone over that he bowled.
The Scorchers needed 10 runs off the final over, and the equation became a tough three runs off the final ball, with Adam Voges on strike to Faulkner.
The Stars thought they had it won after the Scorchers managed just a single following a swing-and-miss from Voges.
But a front-foot no-ball shattered the Stars' dreams, with Hussey striking a boundary off the next ball to secure victory.
The result was a double bonus for the Scorchers, who along with earning the right to host the grand final, have now also qualified for the lucrative T20 Champions League later this year.
While Hussey hit the winning runs, Marsh was the true hero of the night.
The Big Bash competition has been a saving grace for the talented left-hander, who was banished to grade ranks by Western Australia in October following a horrible run of form.
But after striking 396 runs in this summer's Big Bash, Marsh is back in top form, and ready for a national recall.
Scorchers vice-captain Voges (36no off 21 balls) and Hussey (21no off 12) also played a key role in the win after Marsh fell with 38 more runs still required.
Earlier, White and Hodge took a while to get going, but once they did, it was absolutely ruthless.
At the height of their onslaught, the Stars went from 100 to 150 in just 12 balls.
Veteran Scorchers spinner Brad Hogg copped much of the pain, conceding 44 runs from his three overs.
White should have been run out on 47, but Jason Behrendorff failed to hit the stumps from close range.
C WHITE c Gibbs b Behrendorff 88
L WRIGHT c Thomas b Coulter-Nile 16
B HODGE not out 70
R QUINEY not out 3
Sundries (2lb, 1w, 3nb) 6
Total (2 wkts - 18 overs) 183
Fall of wickets: 39 (Wright), 159 (White)
Bowling: A Thomas 3-0-27-0, J Behrendorff 4-0-47-1 (1nb), N Coulter-Nile 4-0-24-1 (1nb), M Beer 4-0-39-0 (1w), B Hogg 3-0-44-0 (1nb)
S MARSH c Hodge b Faulkner 68
H GIBBS retired hurt 7
N COULTER-NILE c Hodge b Hastings 0
A VOGES not out 36
M HUSSEY not out 21
Sundries (b4, lb3, nb2, w1) 10
Total (2 wkts - 13 overs ) 142
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Coulter-Nile), 2 -101 (Marsh)
Bowling: J Faulkner 3-0-25-1 (1nb, 1w), Bird 2-0-22-0, A Mascarenhas 3-0-27-0, Hastings 3-0-22-1; A Keath 1-0-27-0, L Wright 1-0-12-0
Result: Perth Scorchers won by 8 wickets (based on Duckworth-Lewis method)
Man of the Match: Shaun Marsh