Stokes, bowlers smother Hurricanes
Melbourne Renegades 7 for 163 (Stokes 77, Ferguson 31, Hilfenhaus 3-32) beat Hobart Hurricanes 126 (Bailey 20, Winter 3-19, Fawad 2-13) by 37 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A blitzkrieg innings of 77 off just 37 balls from Ben Stokes propelled the Melbourne Renegades to a critical 36-run win against the Hobart Hurricanes at Bellerive Oval. The Renegades' second win of the season keeps them within touching distance of a semi-final place and drags the Hurricanes back into the lower-league scrap.
Stokes' innings almost single-handedly carried the Renegades to a total of 7 for 163; their highest score this season. It proved to be too much for the Hurricanes, whose chase never threatened and ended in the final over when they were bowled out for 126. Stokes was one of only two Renegades players to score more than 20 in a disjointed team innings; Callum Ferguson's run-a-ball 31 providing the only assistance.
With the Renegades being inserted, openers Matthew Wade, bowled through the gate by Ben Hilfenhaus for 2, and Aaron Finch, caught at slip for 5, both fell within the Powerplay to bring Stokes and Ferguson together.
Stokes, batting at No.3 and playing in his first match for the Renegades having been signed as a replacement player for Andre Russell, came to the crease with the score 1 for 5 and left more than 10 overs later with the score 3 for 106.
Stokes was playing his first innings in exactly a month, but timed the ball superbly as soon as he arrived at the crease, his 34-ball innings was punctuated by eight cleanly-hit fours and five powerful sixes. Staying deep in the crease and using his feet Stokes displayed an expansive array of shots.
However, when Stokes fell in the 12th over, the Renegades, who were bowled out for just 57 in their previous match against the Melbourne Stars, once again fell away, scoring just 54 runs from their final nine overs. Shakib Al-Hasan, also playing his first match for the Renegades, managed just 14 off 12 balls on debut and did not receive much by way of support from the lower order of Tom Cooper and Tom Beaton.
A six from Nathan Rimmington in the final over gave a fillip to a timid end to the Renegades innings, elevating them to 163, 16 short of the average winning score at the ground. Only one of the Hurricanes bowlers conceded less than eight runs per over on a day when they just missed their lengths.
The Hurricanes' chase got off to a slow start as Tim Paine fell in the fourth over, bowled by Nicholas Winter. Ben Dunk and Alex Hales were also bowled playing attacking shots before the end of the Powerplay, with the Hurricanes struggling at 3 for 34.
The team's hopes rested on the shoulders of their captain George Bailey, but on a pitch on which no one other than Stokes ever looked at ease, he managed just 20 off 24 deliveries. His frustration was visible as he struggled to get the ball away and the required rate subsequently climbed.
Jonathan Wells slashed an encouraging four from his first ball, but fell soon after. Travis Birt's arrival at the crease was delayed by a minor knee injury, so Tim Bresnan came in at No.6, but he too did not last long. When Bailey was dismissed in the 15th over, the game was essentially over for the Hurricanes who had been beaten by one man transcending the conditions. The lower order crumbled as the innings wound to a close, with Fawad Ahmed, Peter Siddle and Shakib all collecting two wickets and Winter claiming three.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket