Klinger, Marsh set up first ever 10-wicket win in BBL
Perth Scorchers 0 for 171 (Klinger 90*, Marsh 76*) beat Melbourne Renegades 170 for 4 (Finch 72, Gayle 41, Behrendorff 2-14) by 10 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia, once again, is voting with its feet. Melbourne Renegades attracted their largest ever non-derby crowd and what the 26,787 at Docklands saw was a tale of two opening partnerships. First, Aaron Finch shared 98 in 68 balls with Chris Gayle, but the hosts stalled to 170 for 4 and were well and truly trumped by Perth Scorchers' Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh, to the tune of the BBL's first ever ten-wicket win.
The BBL has been playing to packed crowds throughout the country. The Adelaide Strikers confirmed they had sold all 52,000 tickets for their New Year's Eve clash at Adelaide Oval, and early estimates suggest that 50,000 will head to the MCG for Saturday's Melbourne derby, another record. For context, a combined 33,164 watched days three and four of the second Test against West Indies.
Of course, bums on seats are a given when Finch does as Finch does playing for the Renegades. After his 72 off 48 balls here, he has 1111 runs for the franchise; their second top-scorer has just 498. He was brutal off his pads and on the drive, taking a particular liking to left-arm quick Joel Paris, whose first three deliveries were deposited for a pair of fours and a six. Gayle was slow off the mark, but freed his arms at the arrival of Brad Hogg, slogging a three sixes into the second tier of stands beyond the short midwicket boundary. When Gayle fell, skying a top edge off the excellent Jason Behrendorff, the Renegades stumbled; Cameron White followed next ball, to an outrageous one-handed caught and bowled.
Matthew Wade joined Finch with the score on 98 for 2 and put on a further 47 runs, but the openers' platform was never truly built on. Finch was starved of the strike as Andrew Tye and David Willey joined Behrendorff in turning the screws. Willey had Finch caught at deep midwicket and then Tye found the perfect yorker to castle Wade. After 200 had looked possible, 170 felt light, even on a slightly tacky pitch.
Finch had topped the Big Bash League's all-time run-scorers list, but by the end of the night, he had been usurped by Klinger, and Marsh had closed the gap in second place. After Chris Lynn, who sits fourth on the list, bludgeoned a century in a losing cause for Brisbane Heat on Tuesday, it has been a week of the BBL's batting cream rising.
You will see bigger, more exciting chases in Twenty20 cricket. But you will seldom see one more calm, calculated and organised. Renegades' bowling looked light and green. Klinger (90*) and Marsh (76*) capitalised, getting up with the rate early and never relenting and the game was won with eight balls to spare. Nathan Hauritz, making his first appearance for the Renegades, was treated with utter contempt, his two overs costing 29, including two sixes for Marsh and one to Klinger, all down the ground. The seamers weren't particularly threatening either and Finch eventually showed his frustration by simply bowling himself.
Klinger and Marsh came within a run of Luke Wright and Rob Quiney's record opening stand of 172 in the BBL, and only failed to break it because they had nothing more to chase. Both were watchful early on, getting the measure of the surface, before pushing on. Marsh favoured the legside and Klinger - who really can do little more to assert his international claims and would be forgiven for wondering if the selectors have ever actually watched him bat - was excellent on the drive. There was a boundary scored off the last ball of four of the first six overs and there was no looking back.
After losing their opening game, the Scorchers are on the charge, and with chases like these, and bowling like Behrendorff's (2-14 in four overs), it's little wonder that they have won the last two BBLs. There was another hint, too, at the close of play, as the ground emptied and Klinger and Marsh conducted their triumphant post-match interviews. Over in the corner was Justin Langer, binning empty bottles and clearing up kit in the players' viewing area. The coach, like his captain and senior pro, was just leading by example.