Arafat leads Perth Scorchers to win over Sixers
Yasir Arafat turned from villain to hero in spectacular fashion as the Perth Scorchers won a thrilling Big Bash clash against the Sydney Sixers.
After scores were tied at the end of 40 overs, the Scorchers won in a super over at the SCG on Friday night, chasing just two runs following cool-as-ice finishing from Arafat.
Arafat delivered in the clutch in a big way in front of 23,848 fans, taking 4-24 in the regular innings and 2-1 in the super over - more than making up for sloppy fielding earlier in the innings.
Veteran Adam Voges had no trouble hitting the winning runs off Brett Lee - who had earlier starred with both bat and ball.
Prior to the late theatrics, Sixers captain Steve Smith and Scorchers skipper Simon Katich had saved their sides from disaster with stirring knocks.
The 38-year-old Katich started the show with a classic 71, after Brett Lee (4-28) had opened with a double-wicket maiden, to steer the visitors to 5-153.
Despite being 14 years his junior, Smith showed he has the same sort of ticker as Katich by rescuing the Sixers from 4-20 with a brilliant 65 off 48 - having been dropped by Arafat.
It appeared he'd almost done enough to orchestrate a stunning victory in regular time, but those hopes were dashed when he was dismissed by the 31-year-old Arafat.
That left Lee, who hit 13 off nine including a massive six into the members' stand, and Chris Tremlett (8no off 6) to finish the job.
Needing seven from the final over, they came close - but Arafat's cool head, and dismissal of Lee with three balls remaining, forced the super over which he again dominated.
Lee had started the match with a double wicket maiden - rolling the years back to when he was one of the most feared quicks on the planet.
He needed to repeat the dose with his super over - but it wasn't to be.
The Sixers' innings started dismally, falling to 4-20 in the face of a terrific spell from Jason Behrendorff.
The young Scorchers left-armer savaged the Sixers' top order, claiming 3-21 while also being on a hattrick at one point having claimed the wickets of Moises Henriques and Marcus North.
But Katich was the star of the show early, putting on 129 with Sam Whiteman (53), and playing a careful innings on a difficult wicket.
Last week Katich scored a match-winning 75 against the Sydney Thunder, and he was again at his crafty best.
The former Test opener has his own approach to T20 cricket.
While sixes are the norm in the hit'n'giggle format, Katich tries to find gaps on the ground - hitting seven fours with none over the fence in his 56-ball innings.
"He's like a conductor leading an orchestra," West Indian great Viv Richards said of Katich.
Arafat modestly put the victory down to Katich and Whiteman for surviving Lee's opening stint and giving them a defendable total.
"Kato (Katich) and Sam had a great partnership which got us back into the game," he said.
"(Lee) bowled an excellent spell today (but) the batters did very well ... and scored enough runs for the bowlers to defend."
The win puts the Scorchers into outright second.