After winning the toss and electing to bowl on what was a sticky, warm night at Etihad Stadium, the Melbourne Renegades had to endure a painful 20 overs at the hands of the Melbourne Stars.
Cameron White (22) and Luke Wright (39) fired the Stars into a winning position early, and even when White was dismissed off the bowling of young Nick Winter, the damage had already been done, with the Stars run rate above eight an over.
Wright’s destructive force reminded the crowd of 33,430 why he’s become so popular playing for the Stars. English teammate Kevin Pietersen joined Wright at the crease, combining for a 39 run partnership before Wright was well held by Callum Ferguson at square leg.
The Stars kept the run-rate ticking over, but lost David Hussey to an injured hand, having been hit by Renegades import Andre Russell. James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell went without making a major impact – then John “Duke” Hastings stepped up to the plate at 5/123, smashing a towering six over mid-wicket, which whipped the Stars fans into one massive cheer.
Hastings put on a 36 run partnership with Tom Triffit (22), and with it the Stars lifted themselves to 6/169 – their best performance of BBL|04. It sent a message to the Renegades that they weren’t going away without a little competition.
What was supposed to be a contest turned into one of the most comprehensive, and puzzling, routings Twenty20 cricket has ever witnessed. The Renegades had almost zero answer to some fast, accurate and short-pitched bowling that caught Matthew Wade completely off guard. One wicket quickly turned into two, and then three, and then 4/13, as Aaron Finch, Callum Ferguson and Ben Rohrer all had to walk back to the sheds without so much as blinking an eyelid at the bowler.
Rohrer copped an absolute ripper of a delivery from Jackson Bird (2/12) to be adjudged LBW, straight in front of the stumps. That soon became 6/28 as Russell arrived and packed his bags just as quickly. No-one survived more than 15 balls the entire innings, and extras was equal top score with Tom Cooper (10). All out 57 in just 12.4 overs, the Renegades total was lower than the 69 scored by the Perth Scorchers against the Stars more than two years ago.
All six of the Stars bowlers shared in the wicket spoils. Scott Boland held a terrific, low return smashed back at him by Cooper that encapsulated the Stars hard work ethic in trying conditions.
The Stars will not only be pleased with a first win that pulls the pressure off them from languishing at the food of the ladder, but the way in which they so clinically disposed of their opponents.
Stars spinner Michael Beer noted how important it was to not let the Renegades off the leash early with poor bowling or fielding, and that the opposite won them the game.
“If you bowled in the right areas, it was tough to score, and we showed that. The way our batting group started put them (Renegades) under the pump, so they had to find their way back into the game.”
Beer said the quick scoring rate made it difficult to gauge what was a par score on the Etihad pitch.
“It’s hard to say…I knew through the middle overs it would be tough, as the ball became older, but I think the way we started helped us all round.”
The positive vibe around the Stars sets them up well for their clash against the Sydney Sixers at the MCG on Monday. None of the Dwayne Bravo antics annoyed the Stars, Beer said, in an attempt to make distractions take a backseat.
It does set the Melbourne Renegades back after their own crushing win against the Sydney Thunder. They’ve registered the record lowest score in Big Bash League history, and missed the opportunity to go back to back and make a jump on a finals berth. They must make up for it against the Hobart Hurricanes away from home on Wednesday.