THE MELBOURNE Renegades have missed out on a semi-final berth after suffering a nail-biting loss to the Sydney Sixers at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Needing a win to keep their finals hopes alive, the Renegades gave it their all but fell just short against the in-form Sixers.
It was a whole-hearted team effort with bat and ball, but the home side fell two runs short after the visitors posted 6-151.
With Aaron Finch on Australian duties, stand-in skipper Ben Rohrer won the toss and elected to bowl and it proved to be a sound decision as the Renegades attack started strongly.
The recalled Matthew Gale kept things tight in his first over, conceding only six runs, before the pressure paid off in the first ball of Aaron O'Brien's first over, with Nic Maddinson stumped.
Gale continued the tight start by conceding only five from his second over, but the floodgades opened in O'Brien's second, with Moises Henriques smashing 18 from it.
Dwayne Bravo's first over as a Renegade was both eventful and unlucky. The West Indian had Michael Lumb (18 off 16) dropped behind the wicket, before the left-hander mis-hit two successive lofted drives just over the head of mid-off.
Lumb's luck soon ran out when he top-edged a Nathan Rimmington full toss straight to Rohrer.
Steve Smith and Henriques then started to accumulate runs with a mix of power and placement, but the Renegades weren't giving anything away without a fight. Gale was a shining light with his best BBL spell (0-27 off four) as the home side tried to keep things under control.
The game tilted in the Renegades' favour when O'Brien caught Smith (25 off 22) off his own bowling and Muralidaran claimed the huge wicket of Henriques for 55 off 39 balls.
Muralidaran (1-23 off four) was superb again, just about unhittable until his final delivery was bludgeoned into the stands by Marcus North (30 not out off 21).
Bravo also showed why the Renegades chased him so strongly for just two games, bowling a brilliant mix of slower balls and fast yorkers before finishing with the exact same figures of Muralidaran.
A final score of 6-151 seemed to be about par, but could the Renegades do enough with the bat to keep their finals hopes alive?
The run chase began steadily, with Dan Harris and Michael Hill wary against the Sixers' attack. That all changed when Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon bowled the fourth over of the innings, with both openers smiting him into the stands as the run rate was sent skyrocketing.
Only a brilliant one-handed pick up and throw from Henriques to run out Harris (20 off 17) halted the momentum but Hill and Alex Doolan took the Renegades closer to their target.
Hill's departure for a well-made 35 off 31 brought Bravo to the crease and it didn't take him long to have the crowd on the edge – and falling over – their seats, which was the case for one spectator who attempted to catch a six off the powerful West Indian only to tumble onto the playing arena.
Three balls after slicing Henriques over the rope, Bravo did it again off Stephen O'Keefe, before a mix-up with Doolan (19 off 18) resulted in the Tasmanian being run out.
Everything was on the line for the Renegades as Rohrer joined Bravo, and the duo attempted to conjure a famous victory. Both batsmen were finding gaps easily, but boundaries difficult, and with three overs to go, the home side required 32 runs.
With two overs remaining, 25 were required. It was tense stuff.
The Renegades' hopes took a hit when Bravo (38 off 30) was caught off the first ball of the penultimate over, which brought to the crease former Zimbabwean under-19 player Solomon Mire.
Unfortunately, Mire - the first Community Rookie to play a BBL game having previously featured in 13 first-class matches in Zimbabwe before moving to Victoria four years ago – only lasted one ball before being run out after a mix-up with Rohrer.
So, with a possible semi-final appearance still on the line, the situation boiled down to this: the Renegades required17 runs off the final over, bowled by Brett Lee.
It wasn't to be.