Topley, Maddinson and Richardson took three wickets apiece to restrict Stars to 126, before Finch’s fifty paved the way for a five-wicket win
Melbourne Renegades 5 for 129 (Finch 50, Harvey 23 not out, O’Connell 2-11) beat Melbourne Stars 126 (Cartwright 41, Maddinson 3-20, Richardson 3-24, Topley 3-27 ) by five wickets
Melbourne Renegades overcame depleted crosstown rival Melbourne Stars to secure a much-needed five-wicket victory at the MCG.
Renegades have traditionally struggled in the Melbourne derby but confirmed their favouritism against a beleaguered Stars, who had 12 players unavailable due to testing positive for Covid-19. Australia’s T20 World Cup heroes Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa were among the key players sidelined.
A near full-strength Renegades restricted an inexperienced Stars batting order to just 126 and then recovered from a mid-innings collapse in the chase to lift off the bottom of the table.
The Melbourne derby at the MCG is traditionally the BBL’s highest attended game annually but attracted a crowd of just 21,562 on this occasion.
Disciplined Renegades stifle Stars
Quick Reece Topley, who will soon be heading home in preparation for England’s T20I tour of the Caribbean, snuffed out Stars’ late scramble for runs to complete a disciplined Renegades bowling effort.
Dean gets his chance amid Stars’ woes
Due to Stars’ upheaval, former Victoria Sheffield Shield winning captain Travis Dean was their latest call-up and he received a baptism of fire opening the batting. Well regarded as a gutsy opener, the 29-year-old’s only two previous BBL games were in late 2018 but he was intent on making up for lost time unleashing premeditated sweeps to curb Renegades’ spinners.
But Dean fell on 32, setting the stage for skipper Glenn Maxwell to turn around his form having mustered just 18 runs in his last three innings since a brilliant century against Sydney Sixers.
It wasn’t to be with Maxwell once again holing out recklessly, lured into a sharp bouncer from Topley as Stars wobbled at 4 for 61.
The pressure was on in-form Hilton Cartwright, who put his foot down with a huge six off Zahir in the 15th over. Cartwright, who smashed 79 from 44 balls against Brisbane Heat a week ago, gave Stars something to bowl at before falling for a 29-ball 41 in the final over. The No.5 probably should have come in one or two spots higher.
Marsh returns as Renegades overcome stutter
Shaun Marsh made a successful comeback with a crisp 17-ball 21 batting at No.3 having been on the sidelines since November with a serious calf injury. The 38-year-old didn’t look rusty and ran sharply between the wickets in a tonic for Renegades, whose playoff chances were in a hole having lost five of their first six games.
But Marsh’s dismissal triggered a collapse with Maddinson and Finch departing shortly after to expose Renegades’ struggling middle order. Mohammad Nabi’s wretched season continued when he was bowled first ball as a panicked Renegades wobbled at 5 for 91.
But youngster Mackenzie Harvey and x-factor James Seymour steadied the ship to guide Renegades to just their seventh win from 21 games in the Melbourne derby.
Stars’ attack shows heart
You have to feel for Stars, whose season is spiralling after consecutive losses with makeshift lineups. Even though they were depleted, Stars still boasted a potent attack with a distinctive Pakistani flavor but they just didn’t have enough runs on the board.
They looked set for a demoralising defeat until clawing back into the contest with a mixture of fortune and fortitude. When a pumped-up Rauf bowled Nabi, Stars sensed an astonishing victory but their push was just a little too late.
A gallant Stars (3-5) showed heart but are now precariously placed outside the playoff picture in sixth position.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth