Nabi, bowlers hand Stars fourth loss
Melbourne Renegades 4 for 159 (Nabi 52, Finch 43, Hastings 2-24) beat Melbourne Stars 4 for 157 (Dunk 47, Pietersen 40) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Melbourne Renegades jumped to the top of the BBL points table, while Melbourne Stars hit rock bottom after suffering their fourth straight loss.
The Renegades' Afghanistan recruit Mohammad Nabi starred with both bat and ball to help his side dismantle the Stars, who could miss the knockouts for the first time in the BBL.
The Stars looked set to break out of their funk as Ben Dunk and Kevin Pietersen took charge after the Stars were asked to bat. But the Renegades' bowlers restricted the Stars to just 157 without taking a stack of wickets.
Then Aaron Finch, Cameron White and Nabi made light work of the chase, with Tom Cooper not even required as they won with 13 balls and six wickets to spare.
Dunk and Pietersen fire early
Dunk has been the leading run-scorer in two different BBL seasons. His move to the Stars in the off-season was one of the biggest coups in BBL history. After managing scores of 0,6 and 5 in his first three matches this season, Dunk recaptured some form with some quality shots. Two of his first three boundaries came via pure cover drives from pace and spin. He also wasn't boundary conscious. He only faced seven dots his 30-ball innings. Following the loss of Luke Wright, he found a good ally in Pietersen who looked in vintage touch from the moment he wristily drive Jack Wildermuth straight down the ground third ball. The pair played with complete control in a partnership of 81 in eight overs. They had laid the perfect platform.
No negative split
Track distance runners will often run negative splits, with the second half of races being run quicker than the first. In T20s, it's a pre-requisite with wickets in hand. The Stars were 1 for 82 after 10 overs and should have doubled that as a minimum. But when Pietersen holed out to long-on for the second straight game he cursed himself, frustrated both at the mode of dismissal and timing of it.
But in reality, the Stars had Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and James Faulkner still to come. The Renegades executed their plans to each player perfectly. Dunk feathered a clever slower ball from Wildermuth. Maxwell and Stoinis were the Stars' two form players but both struggled on a tricky MCG surface. Maxwell, who wore a microphone while fielding, said the wicket skidded quicker and lower than the one they had played on against Brisbane Heat. The pair scored 47 runs from the last 40 balls, finding the boundary just three times.
Finch scored five fours and a six from the first six balls he faced. While Jackson Coleman slid the ball into the pads on T20 debut, Michael Beer's over was the surprise. With no fielder back on the off side he offered width twice to Finch, who cashed in. Beer adjusted straighter but Finch hit him over long-on and inside-out through cover again. The final ball that was dragged down was punished behind square. The Renegades were 32 for 0 after two overs. The Stars then adjusted. Finch faced just 16 balls in the Powerplay but he still scored 39 runs. His inability to regain the strike led to his dismissal at the end of the eighth over, bowled by a wrong 'un from Adam Zampa. But by then he had set the game up.
Nabi, the trump card
Nabi has bowled superbly in the tournament and did another outstanding job against the Stars but before Saturday he had only batted once, walking out at No.8 against Perth Scorchers. Finch sent him out at No.4 in the Melbourne derby to attack Zampa. He followed the instructions to the letter. He hit Zampa for two sixes in the 10th over, Zampa's second, and it forced John Hastings to turn back to pace when he wanted to bowl spin in the middle overs.
Nabi's cameo allowed White to continue his sublime form. Nabi clubbed 52 from just 30 balls before miscuing Hastings to mid-off. The partnership yielded 72 in 47 balls, of which White contributed only 16. White scarcely took a risk and ended unbeaten on 35 off 37 balls.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth