England Lions have fallen just short of beating Perth Scorchers for the second time in three days despite a fine innings from Nick Gubbins.
The Middlesex opener made 68 from 52 balls, comfortably the highest score of the match, as the Lions chased a Scorchers total of 148 for five – in which Yorkshire’s David Willey thumped 37 from 24 balls, and Paul Coughlin and George Garton each took two wickets.
But after the loss of Gubbins, who was given run out, the Lions fell six runs short – to the delight of a five-figure crowd who had been invited to attend the second match at the New Perth Stadium, after the Lions won an initial test event behind closed doors on Monday.
The Scorchers, who have been crowned Big Bash champions in three of the last four seasons, called up two very familiar faces in Gloucestershire favourite Michael Klinger and 2013-14 Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson.
Klinger and Willey provided a flying start after Adam Voges won the toss and chose to bat on a slow pitch, with Willey hitting six of his seven boundaries from consecutive deliveries.
But the Lions pegged back the scoring rate after Coughlin and Garton dismissed the openers, with Mark Wood rated the pick of the attack as he conceded only 21 from his four overs – and also sent back the dangerous Hilton Cartwright.
Johnson dismissed Joe Clarke in his opening burst, and Dan Lawrence fell for a duck, before Liam Livingstone joined Gubbins for a handy third-wicket stand.
But Livingstone was the first of three victims for leg-spinner James Muirhead, along with captain Keaton Jennings and Wood – although not before Wood had provided arguably the highlight of the match by smearing Johnson into the stands for six.
Johnson gained his revenge with a stunning run out of Dom Bess, as his powerful throw from the boundary scored a direct hit.
But it was the considerably less spectacular or clearcut run out of Gubbins that finally scuppered the Lions.
The teams meet again on Friday, in what will now be a decider in a three-match series, before the Lions return home next week.