By Gareth Morgan
have made a winning start to their KFC T20 Big Bash League campaign, downing the Perth Scorchers
by six wickets in a keenly-contested clash played out in front of a crowd of more than 12,000 at The Furnace.
The home side's total of 6-162 looked a reasonably competitive one, but led by Phil Hughes, who celebrated his recent Test recall by making a sparkling 74 off just 48 balls and Nathan Reardon
, who hammered a belligerent 42
, the visitors reached 4-164 with four balls to spare.
The Scorchers won the toss and with Shaun Marsh
(57) and Adam Voges
(58) leading the way on a sticky, humid evening in Perth produced a solid, if unspectacular performance with the bat.
(1-22) and Johan Botha (1-23) were the pick of the Strikers' bowlers and on a flat wicket with a lightning-quick outfield, as last season's strugglers knew they had put themselves in with a decent chance of securing a first-up win.
With Hughes underpinning their innings, the visitors reached 2-111 heading into the 14th over and although Brad Hogg
(1-33) eventually managed to dislodge the diminutive opener to give the Scorchers some hope, Reardon swung the game decisively back in his side's favour by hammering the 18th over from Ben Edmondson
for 19, leaving Theo Doropoulos
(12 not out) and skipper Botha (five not out) to see them over the line.
Where it was won
Phil Hughes almost single-handedly
took the game away from the hosts, pacing his innings superbly and showing that textbook shots can prove every bit as effective in the BBL as they can in the longer formats of the game.
Oozing confidence from the outset, he rarely looked troubled against a lackluster Scorchers attack, striking nine fours and one huge six to warm himself up nicely for Friday's first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
Where it was lost
The Scorchers looked a decent chance to snare the win with the Strikers requiring 38 off the last four overs, but Reardon had other ideas.
Who killed it
It may ultimately have been in vain and he was eventually outscored by Voges, but Marsh's innings of 57
for the Scorchers was certainly the more spectacular and regularly had a healthy Furnace crowd on their feet.
Each of his three sixes flew deep into the stands, but unfortunately for the seven-Test batsman, he complained of hamstring soreness in the wake of his innings and is consequently a major doubt for Wednesday's clash with the Stars.
The Strikers man raced from the covers almost as far as long-off to get underneath a steepling ball and ignoring the glare of the lights and the swirling wind, held his nerve to hand his skipper Botha his only wicket of the innings.
Had Marsh stayed at the wicket, the Scorchers would surely have posted a total closer to 200 and that may well have been enough for victory.
Where to next
Next on the agenda for the Scorchers is another home date, this time with the Stars who will head to The Furnace on Wednesday desperate to bounce back from their shellacking at the hands of the Renegades in the season-opening Melbourne derby.
The Strikers, meanwhile, will look to get their campaign up and running at the expense of another of the opening round's losing sides, Brisbane Heat who will visit the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.