Renegades cruise to comfortable win
Melbourne Renegades 103 for 3 (Finch 46*) beat Hobart Hurricanes 102 for 9 (Ponting 25, Rimmington 3-18, Samuels 3-22) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Melbourne Renegades, unfashionable and unfancied before the tournament began, won their third straight game, beating Hobart Hurricanes by seven wickets at Docklands Stadium.
They stuck to the formula of winning the toss and bowling. All 11 matches in this tournament so far have been won by the chasing team. But their attack is proving extremely effective as they strangled the Hurricanes on a surface that looked relatively good for batting.
There is a touch of Moneyball about the Renegades. They have the all-time leading wicket-taker in international cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan, and the Man of the Match from the 2012 World Twenty20 final, Marlon Samuels, as marquee men. But there are two journeymen in Nathan Rimmington and Aaron O'Brien, who happen to be in the top five leading wicket-takers in Australian domestic T20 history, as well as the seamer Darren Pattinson (who played one Test for England) to round off a well-balanced bowling unit.
The Hurricanes started steadily. Pattinson erred by dropping short to Ricky Ponting twice in the second over and paid for it by giving away two boundaries. But Rimmington's late swing removed Tim Paine to start a rot that would prove fatal for the visitors. The dangerous Travis Birt nearly hit the roof when he launched Samuels but it landed in the doctor-safe hands of Daniel Harris.
Ponting threatened to unleash when he lofted an imperious cover drive into the stands off Pattinson. But Ponting lost his off stump off an uncharacteristic reverse-sweep off Muralitharan and the Hurricanes began to slide. They lost 4 for 16 in 28 torturous deliveries, with Muralitharan striking twice, O'Brien and Rimmington once apiece.
Owais Shah was unbeaten in that period but he did not help his team's cause, scoring a boundary-less 14 from 29 balls before becoming Samuels' third victim in the 18th over. Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger scored 15 from the last 10 balls to ensure the Hurricanes went past three figures and didn't get bowled out.
Aaron Finch continued to prove himself as one of the star players in Australian domestic limited-overs cricket, making light work of the chase with an unbeaten 46 from 40 balls. He went after Bollinger, but because it hit a beam supporting the roof, outside the boundary line, and bounced back onto the field it was ruled a dead ball. That denied him a fifty.
Finch lost Harris early in the chase, but had the support of Samuels in maximising the Powerplay overs. Samuels smoked 21 from just nine deliveries before chopping Michael Hogan onto his stumps via his pads. Ben Rohrer made a crafty 18, and Tom Cooper made an easy unbeaten 10 to see the chase home with his captain Finch with 40 balls to spare.
The Hurricanes, last year's semi-finalists, have now lost two in a row and need to recover against Sydney Thunder on Sunday in Hobart. The Renegades will be gunning for four straight wins when they host Brisbane Heat on Saturday.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth