Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers, BBL 2015-16 January 18, 2016

Head stifles Renegades' chase despite Gayle heroics


Adelaide Strikers 5 for 170 (Ludeman 49, Dean 48, Doherty 2-30) beat Melbourne Renegades 143 (Gayle 56, Head 3-16) by 27 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Chris Gayle's 12-ball half-century was the lone bright spark for Melbourne Renegades as their BBL campaign came to a grinding halt © Getty Images

Melbourne Renegades needed to chase down Adelaide Strikers' 170 in 16 overs to set up a rematch in a Big Bash League semi-final at Adelaide Oval on Thursday. An outrageous 12-ball 50 from Chris Gayle, equalling Yuvraj Singh's fastest-ever T20 half-century, looked to be carrying them to an unlikely victory, before the Strikers' spinners fought back to strangle the Renegades, who at one stage lost seven for 37, and win the game. As a result, Sydney Thunder qualified for their first semi-final in BBL history.

Gayle had 51 of his team's first 60 runs, including seven sixes. But by then, Renegades had already lost three wickets. Tom Cooper - who had watched Gayle pummel four consecutive Greg West deliveries for four sixes in the innings' first over - was the first to go when he nicked the first ball off Michael Neser to the wicketkeeper. Travis Head then dismissed Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo off consecutive deliveries to derail the chase.

It was a truly scintillating passage of hitting from Gayle, and one that had been brewing. Throughout the competition, he has looked far more comfortable chasing than setting a target, and he has become well-acquainted with Docklands Stadium's short square boundaries. After West was tucked to deep-midwicket for two, followed by a defensive stroke, Gayle let fly, pulling a short ball over cow twice, then flicking one behind square and then over long-on, all for six. He hit the first two balls he faced from Ben Laughlin for six too, a wide full toss over long-off, then the resultant free hit was sent to cow corner. Head's first ball, bravely flighted, also went the distance over long-on to bring up Gayle's half-century.

Head - who could only manage a duck on the day he was called up to Australia's T20 squad for the first time, exhibited his all-round ability. He had two in two as Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo fell off successive deliveries, but Gayle didn't back off, hitting him nonchalantly over long-off. Then came perhaps the biggest moment of the evening as he cramped Gayle for room as the top edge was well pouched by Tim Ludeman, the wicketkeeper.

With Gayle gone, there was a feeling that the Renegades had already sunk, even though Peter Nevill kept pinching boundaries. But he was run out by sharp work by Brad Hodge before the tail, that looked to hoick the spinners into the Tasman, came a cropper. Some late heave from tail-enders Nathan Rimmington and Cameron Gannon proved in vain as they lost by 27 runs.

In truth, Renegades did not deserve to qualify. They failed to win a game at home, and regularly failed to capitalise on good starts, and, like Gayle himself, struggled badly while batting first. They bowed out with fewer wickets than any BBL team in history, 32, having particularly been unable to pick up wickets in the first ten overs. Here, as Strikers casually compiled a professional 170, they made it to halfway 82-0, thanks to some powerful hitting from Jono Dean.

Dean, who hit four sixes, fell in the 11th over, top-edging a Bravo slower ball back to the bowler. Head was caught deep in the legside next over. Before they realised, Xavier Doherty quickly snared Alex Ross and Tim Ludeman, who had played attractively after recovering from a slow start. Hodge and Jade Lehmann came together to share a vital 45. Lehmann pulled and square drove impressively before falling in Rimmington's final over, while Hodge was canny as ever, his innings full of short arm jabs and bunts over square leg.

Thunder, watching this game as a squad in Sydney, will have breathed easy when Gayle fell, and they travel to Adelaide for Thursday's semi with no fear; their record as the only team this season to beat the Strikers is in tact.

Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sriyan on January 19, 2016, 4:43 GMT

    It was a great 50 by Gayle.Maybe some of the fanatics are a bit offended that Yuvrajs record has been matched and so are trying to say it was a better knock. Who cares , they were different pitches, different bowlers.Just applaud it without trying to down play Gayles achievement.

  • Anwar uz on January 19, 2016, 4:28 GMT

    Gayle a real storm both on and off the field. Swordsman of the highest order on and off the bedrooms. A crowd pleasure inside and outside stadium. All the bitchy newsperson can complain to gain cheap popularity on someone elses ....sorry! shoulder. Keep going gayle keep us entertained on and off the field.

  • sam on January 19, 2016, 3:24 GMT

    @Amarjit - Would'nt compare it to anything.10 out of those 12 were hip high full-tosses-slightly better than 'lobs' as they were bowled around 130 kph!-and 1 ball which landed in the block-hole turned out to be a dot. Surprise!,surprise!

  • Amarjit on January 18, 2016, 22:39 GMT

    It is a 12 balls fifty no doubt but I doubt if it can be compared with that of Yuvraj which was in an ICC match.

  • SIva on January 18, 2016, 21:48 GMT

    I totally agree with previous comment. White's and Bravo's wickets were unnecessary. I wonder if these guys were ever chased runs before. No wonder White couldn't get into any of the national teams.

  • rick on January 18, 2016, 21:39 GMT

    Why was Gayle not named man of the match. Even in a losing side, he equalled a world record.

  • Nabil on January 18, 2016, 20:57 GMT

    Gayle batted well, but the others batted horribly around him. At one stage they kept getting out, and he was getting no strike.

  • Steve on January 18, 2016, 20:06 GMT

    Last innings by Gayle on Australian soil? He did his part though in this year's BBL.

  • Vicky on January 18, 2016, 19:33 GMT

    By the way, did anyone else feel that this was the last appearance for Gayle in a cricket match in Australia? He walked off when he was out, emotionless, then suddenly he woke up and acknowledged the crowd, and the acknowledgement was extended well beyond a celebration for a record breaking 50 or the last match of the season. I think he has done his Down Under cricket show.

  • Shantanu on January 18, 2016, 15:18 GMT

    Gayle along with Afridi must be the most sought after pro in the T20 format but apart from one T20 world cup in WI colours how many titles has Gayle won ? Its high time teams paying fat salary to Gayle need to realise that they need to do more than just acquiring Gayle to win the titles. Isnt team balance the moot point ? The question then is that does he deserve these fat salary cheques for only individual brilliance ?

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