Incisive Melbourne Renegades end Hobart Hurricanes' unbeaten run
Melbourne Renegades 4 for 150 (Finch 42, Harper 32) beat Hobart Hurricanes 5 for 145 (Bailey 70*, McDermott 50, K Richardson 3-38) by six wickets
Hobart Hurricanes' unbeaten run at the top of the Big Bash League table was summarily ended by Melbourne Renegades, as the home side's incisive start with the ball and even contributions with the bat overshadowed a salvaging stand between George Bailey and Ben McDermott.
Kane Richardson tilted things the way of the Renegades by defeating Matthew Wade and Alex Doolan in the second over of the game, before D'Arcy Short was pinned by a bouncer from Usman Shinwari. Bailey and McDermott did well to manufacture a tally as high as 145, but the Hurricanes needed a similarly fruitful start in the field to defend it.
Instead they were sent chasing the white ball by Sam Harper and the returning Aaron Finch, before Dan Christian and Mohammad Nabi eased out of a middle-order wobble to secure victory with four balls remaining, and pull the Renegades up into a group of four teams with three wins apiece behind Hobart (five) and Sydney Sixers (four).
Unbeaten after five matches in the BBL, the Hurricanes' success had been characterised by dominant Powerplays, especially with the bat. Leading into Monday night they had only lost four wickets in the Powerplays in the whole tournament to date, as D'Arcy Short and the captain Matthew Wade led from the top of the order. However the Docklands drop-in surface has proven challenging to start on so far this season, and in Kane Richardson the Renegades had an operator capable of finding the right niggling lines and lengths to exploit it.
So it was that he was able to coax edges in successive balls from Wade and Alex Doolan, before Short was pinned on the gloves by a well-directed bouncer from Shinwari - amid queries over whether the ball had hit glove or helmet, the umpire Simon Lightbody hesitated to make a decision until he saw Short motion to walk, and then raised his finger before the opener could change his mind. A Powerplay of 3 for 29 meant it was now the Hurricanes' turn to play catch-up.
Bailey goes Geronimo
From these uncertain beginnings, Bailey and McDermott had little choice but to hasten slowly in rebuilding the innings. Rotating the strike but taking few risks, they allowed the scoreboard to meander to 3 for 65 after 13 overs before deciding that was the time to accelerate. An inside-out drive over cover by McDermott off Dan Christian signalled the start of the counter-attack, and 80 runs came from the final seven overs of the innings.
McDermott, he of the epic innings at Docklands two summers ago, was unable to see it through to the end of the innings, but Bailey remained to see 26 collected from the final two overs, in the process going on to his first fifty of the tournament.
Harper ferries Finch
Some discussion has been had about the standard of the BBL relative to international cricket this season, with Peter Handscomb one of the players to go from looking in serious Test match trouble against India to a relatively assured presence in the T20 league. His fellow Victorian, Aaron Finch made his first Renegades appearance since dropping out of the Test XI for the SCG, and took some time to get himself going.
He was helped in no small part by the fluency of the wicketkeeper Sam Harper following the early departure of Mackenzie Harvey. Riley Meredith's pace on the ball was to Harper's liking, and his 32 while striking at 177.77 meant that the Renegades were able to stride to 1 for 52 from their Powerplay overs. All the while Finch was able to work his way into the match, collecting a useful 42 before his run-out by Johan Botha's direct hit gave the Hurricanes a glimpse of winning.
Renegades master their finish
The final three overs had the Renegades needing 26 runs, knowing that one of those overs was to be bowled by the excellent Jofra Archer. Dan Christian, his bat resplendent in a newly unveiled indigenous design by Emma MacNeil, wielded it like a sabre to swing boundaries to midwicket and backward point. Those eight runs were pivotal to the remaining equation, leaving Meredith and James Faulkner with no margin for any error.
Christian duly capitalised when Meredith strayed wide with his speed, carving a flat six over the gully region and then cover driving magnificently into the Docklands second tier. Faulkner was subsequently left with a mere three runs to defend in the final over, and Nabi happily hoisted the allrounder's second ball beyond the boundary for the win.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig