T20 Big Bash League - KFC

Renegades lose in front of record crowd

4/1/2014 22:36 PM

AARON Finch must love batting against the Melbourne Stars. But even more, he must hate losing to them. 

Once again, the Renegades' captain feasted on the Stars' bowling attack, cracking an unbeaten 84 off 55 balls but it wasn't enough to prevent a second loss to the green side of Melbourne this year.

In front of a record cricket crowd of 42, 837 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, Finch's heroics were wasted as the Renegades went down by nine wickets. 

The home team simply had no answer against the power hitting of Cameron White (84 not out off 49 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (58 not out off 28) as the Stars chased down their target of 5/163 in 16.2 overs.  

Finch did all he could after winning the toss and batting, starting slowly before exploding in the final stages of the Renegades' innings on his way to his third consecutive BBL half-century. 

Finch was again the major thorn in the Stars' sides, after he belted 111 and 67 not out last year, and 32 earlier this season.

He and Tom Cooper (60 off 44) were the only two Renegades batsmen to reach double figures as the home side struggled to find fluency. 

It didn't take long for Finch to make his presence felt – launching Lasith Malinga over the mid-wicket boundary for a six in the first over.

But as he did in the first Melbourne derby of the year, Jackson Bird tore through the Renegades' top order. Michael Hill was caught behind for eight off eight balls, and worse was to come. 

According to the script, the key duo for the home side was going to be Finch and Jos Buttler. However, Buttler only lasted two balls before Bird struck again, trapping the Englishman LBW.

A sorry situation deteriorated further the next ball. 

Ben Rohrer, so often the saviour last season, was trapped dead in front by Bird and sent packing for a first ball duck.

Only two overs into the contest, the Renegades were on the ropes at 3/17. 

Cooper and Finch then knuckled down and dragged their team back into the game, keeping the run rate ticking over with a mix of ones and twos.

In fact, the Renegades went 42 balls without a boundary in the middle stages before Cooper launched John Hastings for a massive six in the 11th over. 

It was a signal of intent as the two men in red looked to build on the platform they'd carefully assembled.

Battling a sore back, Cooper was brilliant - outscoring even Finch as he compiled a composed 36-ball half-century. 

He was gone soon after, smashing a cut shot to point, bringing to an end a crucial 102-run partnership.

Peter Nevill came and went quickly, but there was still enough time for Finch to cause serious damage, evidenced when the captain brought up his 50 with a towering six over mid-wicket. 

That blow was the beginning of a crazy finish to the innings.

At the start of the penultimate over, Finch struck what surely must be one of the most unique sixes in cricket history, when a top-edged leg-side swipe hit the Etihad Stadium roof, resulting in six of the best. The crowd went wild, but more was to come. 

In the final over, Finch cleared the rope again in a more traditional manner, smashing Clint McKay over cover, before plonking two more into the stands. It was a 25-run over as the home team reached 5/163.

Needing plenty of dot balls and wickets early, the Renegades instead ran head-first into a White assault, with the Stars' skipper belting a flurry of fours against the hard new ball. 

Given two lives by the normally razor-sharp Renegade fielders, White made the home team pay. He slog-swept Muthiah Muralidaran's second delivery into the stands and loomed as a genuine match-winner.

His opening partner Luke Wright (17 off 21) wasn't as fluent, and was the first - and only – Stars wicket to fall thanks to a quality catch at long-on from Michael Hill off Aaron O'Brien. 

But White and Glenn Maxwell made a tricky chase look easy as the Stars cruised to a comfortable win.

The loss leaves the Renegades' record at 2-3, ahead of a home game against Sydney Thunder on January 14.

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