30 balls. 19 runs. Seven wickets. It was a meltdown of epic proportions at Docklands Stadium as Melbourne Stars lost seven wickets in just over three overs to hand Melbourne Renegades their first-ever Big Bash League title. Having restricted Renegades to 145/5 in their 20 overs, Stars would have harboured hopes of a win especially after Ben Dunk and Marcus Stoinis added 93 runs for the opening wicket. However, once both openers fell, the middle-order made an absolute meal of what should have been an easy run-chase. The Renegades bowlers on their part stuck to a plan, bowled to their strengths to eventually keep Stars to 132/7 and take the title home by 13 runs.
Stars’ decision to field first was vindicated early with Jackson Bird – having been picked for two fours in three balls – struck to remove Marcus Harris in just the second over for 12. Sam Harper, coming in at No. 3, survived a few close shouts before falling for just 6, handing Bird a simple return catch.
Aaron Finch and Cameron White then rectified some of the damage with a few big hits but an unfortunate piece of run out sent the Renegades captain packing. White drilled Bird down the ground but unluckily the almost perfect straight drive hit the bowler’s boot and ricocheted back onto the stumps where Finch (13) was found backing up too far.
White too fell soon after lbw to Adam Zampa for a run-a-ball 12 as Renegades slipped to 49/4 in 7.1 overs. That soon became 65/5 in the 11th over with Zampa flummoxing Mackenzie Harvey with a well-disguised wrong’un for 14.
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Half the side back in the shed it was down to the experienced Tom Cooper and Dan Christian to take their team anywhere close to a reasonable total. Renegades crossed the 100-run mark only in the 16th over but the duo ensured there were no more casualties. They then collected 11 from the 17th over before spanking pacer Daniel Worrall for 17 in the penultimate over and 12 off Dwayne Bravo’s last over of the innings to take Renegades past the 140-mark.
Cooper finished unbeaten on a 35-ball 43 which included two fours and two sixes, while Christian remained 38 not out. For Stars, Zampa and Bird were the most successful bowlers picking two wickets apiece.
A 146-run target was not expected to be a daunting challenge but Stars made a meal of it despite the start.
While Dunk was aggressive in his approach – he struck the first ball of the chase for a four, Stoinis was cautious. The Powerplay yielded 36 runs but more importantly, Stars did not lose a wicket.
Dunk soon reached his half-century off just 38 deliveries with a guide down to the third man but a spectacular collapse soon after derailed the chase.
Stoinis was castled by a leg-spinner from Cameron Boyce for 39 while Peter Handscomb in a bid to slam his second ball out of the park ended up lofting Chris Tremain straight into the hands of Christian for a duck.
Boyce then got the big wicket of Dunk (57) off the last ball of his spell while Tremain struck again to get the big wicket of Glenn Maxwell for 1 as Stars slipped from a comfortable 93/0 to 99/4. The required rate as a result also soared and the Renegades bowlers to their credit ensured they did not give any lose deliveries.
It was Englishman Harry Gurney’s turn to then get into the act with the wicket of Nic Maddinson for 6 before Christian’s double-strike in the 18th over almost sealed the deal for Renegades.
It was one of the more bizarre-looking scorecards with the top two batsmen’s numbers reading 57 & 39 while the rest following had scores of 0, 1, 6, 2, 3, 17*, 4*. Stars needed 53 runs from 43 balls, with 10 wickets in hand but somehow threw it away.
For Renegades, Tremain was the pick of the bowlers returning 2/21 in his four overs while Boyce and Christian also picked up two wickets each.
First Published: February 17, 2019, 1:23 PM IST