Unstoppable Stoinis gives Stars crucial win
Melbourne Stars 4 for 124 (Stoinis 70*, Richardson 2-17) beat Melbourne Renegades 121 (Nabi 28, Stoinis 3-19) by six wickets
A full-strength Melbourne Stars rolled Melbourne Renegades over for 121, and then relied on Marcus Stoinis to chase down the target with four balls to spare and continue their dominance of the Melbourne derby.
The Stars came into the match at the bottom of the table, but overcame their crosstown rivals to snap a three-game losing streak. After electing to bowl on a seemingly flat Marvel Stadium pitch, the Stars had an almost flawless performance in the field marked by disciplined bowling and spectacular catching.
Stars were energised by their slew of returning international players, most notably Stoinis, who guided his team home on a slowing surface with an unbeaten 70 after taking 3 for 19.
It was the Stars' tenth win from the last 12 matches against the Renegades, who slipped to a 5-5 record but held on to the second spot on the table behind Hobart Hurricanes.
No upturn in Finch's fortunes
Aaron Finch has endured a miserable summer and become a well-worn punching bag for his detractors. He was dropped from the fourth Test against India and was then worked over by India's quicks during the subsequent ODI series. However, a change of format provided an opportunity for Finch to rediscover his best against a team he had long dominated.
Finch showed glimpses of his renowned firepower by smashing consecutive sixes off Liam Plunkett in the third over. He combined well with Marcus Harris as the openers hammered 30 runs inside three overs to propel the Renegades forward.
It all flipped when Harris was spectacularly caught one-handed by a leaping Dwayne Bravo to trigger a top-order meltdown. Bravo's stunner was almost outdone next over by Nic Maddinson, who snared a tough catch diving forward at deep point to continue Finch's slump.
Finch looked to dominate paceman Jackson Bird by advancing down the pitch but miscued the shot to end his innings on a seven-ball 14. Renegades' nightmare continued two balls later when a reckless Sam Harper was bowled after playing across the line.
When Cameron White also fell to a rash stroke in the fifth over, bowled by Stoinis, Renegades had lost 4 for 3 in 13 deliveries.
Discipline does the trick for the Stars
In a major hole, Renegades shed the bravado and opted for caution with Tom Cooper and Mohammad Nabi knocking the ball around in a sedate 41-run partnership. But, looking to up the ante, Cooper holed out in the 13th over.
The Renegades were stuck against disciplined bowling with boundaries hard to come by. Nabi ended a long dry stretch with a cracking cut off Bravo for four - the first boundary in almost six overs.
With the Renegades shackled, legspinner Adam Zampa decided to tempt the batsmen by throwing the ball up and he was rewarded with the scalp of Nabi, who holed out for 28. Zampa had to then counter Dan Christian, who looked to attack with aggressive footwork down the pitch.
After being smacked over the long-on boundary, Zampa held his nerve and fooled Christian into tamely pushing back to the gleeful bowler as the Renegades' total appeared well short.
Groundhog Day for Dunk as Stars stutter
Renegades needed a perfect start and Nabi obliged on the second ball with a cracking delivery to bamboozle Ben Dunk, pitching on middle and hitting the top of off - the second straight time Dunk fell to the Afghanistan allrounder for a golden duck.
Dunk stood in disbelief after not initially believing that he had been dismissed, conjuring images of Mike Gatting's famous reaction after being duped by Shane Warne, who coincidentally was watching it all unfold from the broadcast booth.
Peter Handscomb, returning from international duty, could not get going and fell to a slower delivery from Kane Richardson in the fourth over, which ended with the fiery quick celebrating animatedly.
Glenn Maxwell, also making a BBL comeback, had the potential to make light work of the chase but was run out for just seven after a brilliant throw from deep square leg by Richardson to breathe life into the contest as the Stars wobbled at 3 for 35.
Stoinis rescues Stars
With the Stars in a tricky position, Stoinis summed up the situation perfectly by taking his time and picking off the bowlers. He found support from Maddinson, but a big show between the two explosive batsmen didn't quite ensue.
Maddinson holed out with victory in sight as the Stars suddenly struggled to score against accurate Renegades bowling, led by the miserly Richardson.
They needed 19 runs off two overs before Bravo summoned his wealth of experience by blasting a four and a six off Christian in the penultimate over to effectively end the contest.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth and writes on sports for the Guardian and mailerreport