Adelaide Strikers 5 for 181 (Salt 59) beat Perth Scorchers 7 for 165 (Livingstone 79, Agar 3-36) by 16 runs
The Adelaide Strikers went back up to second in the BBL table, in a tight tussle for the second-chance place in the Qualifier, with a solid all-round display against the Perth Scorchers as Liam Livingstone's six-hitting display was not enough to lift a lethargic effort by the rest of the order.
When Phil Salt, with 31-ball 59, was cutting loose the Strikers were well placed to touch 200 but the Scorchers came back well in the second half of the innings and their final total was only considered around par on a good batting strip.
Crucially, though, they did not allow the Scorchers to race away in the chase - despite the best efforts of Livingstone - and the asking rate escalated into double figures. With the Strikers chipping away, Livingstone's presence became ever-more vital and the game was up when he fell to Wes Agar.
The result leaves the Strikers vying with the Sydney Sixers for second place the Scorchers in the mid-table squeeze for fourth or fifth place.
The ball came onto the bat nice in the early overs with Salt and Jake Weatherald taking advantange. Salt was given an early life on 4 when Ashton Agar couldn't reel in a tough chance over his shoulder running from backward point. It was Weatherald who initially found a higher gear - after his labored innings in the previous match against the Melbourne Stars - when he took Chris Jordan's first three balls for 14. Even though the last over of the powerplay, bowled by Mitchell Marsh, only went for 4 the Strikers were 0 for 60. The ball after Weatherald clobbered Agar into the deep, Salt deposited the same bowler over long-on and soon reached his half-century off 27 balls. With more than half the innings remaining there was a chance for Salt to make a really big score, but he charged and missed at Agar and from there things became tougher for the Strikes.
Travis Head and Alex Carey consolidated nicely for their third-wicket was the stand of 42 came off 27 balls - including 19 off Marsh's second over - until Carey fell to Jordan's short ball. At that point the Strikers were 2 for 139 in 14.2 overs and, with a fair wind, could still have pushed 200. However, they fell well short of that as the remaining 34 balls brought just 42 runs. Although Head struck two sixes he could not quite increase his tempo before falling at the start of the final over. None of the last five overs went for double figures as Jordan, Jhye Richardson and Matt Kelly all finishes strongly. As a side note, Ashton Turner's one over - the 13th - was his first in professional cricket for more than a year.
Livingstone threatens but Strikers squeeze
The Liam Livingstone-Josh Inglis pairing has been the most dominant opening partnership of the season. They did not get going as a duo this time, with Inglis finding mid-off against Wes Agar, but Livingstone - who continued to take some painful blows around the body - again played impressively. He opened his sixes account with a monstrous 106-metre blow over long-on against Michael Neser and twice deposited Head over the rope when the Strikers captain gambled on bowling himself again inside the powerplay. It was tougher work at the other end, however, leaving a lot on Livingstone's shoulders. Kurtis Patterson struck two boundaries in his first four balls but managed just nine off his next 11 before edging the rapid Billy Stanlake.
Agar the man (again)
Few players have shown as much improvement from one season to another - across all formats - as Wes Agar for South Australia and the Strikers. After a career-best 4 for 33 two games ago against the Hurricanes he was a key weapon again with 3 for 36. Having claimed Inglis in the powerplay he returned to make huge blows to the middle order - Marsh hooked to long leg and then, in a match-defining moment, Livingstone found deep midwicket as he attempted his eighth six. Between those dismissals, Carey produced a magnificent running and diving catch to hold Turner's scoop. It felt like it was all on Livingstone. When he went, so did the Scorchers' hopes.