Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Better late than never. Melbourne Stars finally broke their tournament duck with a comfortable 23-run win over a depleted Melbourne Renegades at Docklands stadium.
The Stars had been yearning for their senior players to step up and Kevin Pietersen and Peter Handscomb answered the call. Their 110-run second-wicket partnership underpinned the Stars total, which still might have been under par were it not for a whirlwind finish from Glenn Maxwell.
They finally took wickets in the Powerplay with a new opening bowling combination in Daniel Worrall and Jackson Coleman running through a Renegades top-order that struggled in the absence of Aaron Finch and Cameron White.
The Renegades tournament chances took a blow with the loss. They not only have to find contributors with the bat beyond Finch and White, they will also lose their best spinner Mohammad Nabi to international duty. Nabi bowled beautifully again conceding less than seven an over for the sixth time in the tournament.
Long live King Kev
Pietersen's returns this season have been far from dismal but they have been underwhelming by his lofty standards. Some quality starts have been left uncharacteristically unfinished. His intent to rectify that was clear. He entered in the fourth ball of the innings after Mohammad Nabi removed Ben Dunk for a first ball globe. Pietersen took his time to adjust to the slow surface, scoring just 10 off his first 11 balls. But he still controls the game better than most and puts bowlers under extreme pressure. He was invited to hit over mid-on against the turn of Jon Holland and duly did it twice. He created width from Jack Wildermuth and pierced backward point in consecutive balls. He destroyed Brad Hogg with slog sweeps and pull shots to anything fractionally overpitched or underpitched. He raced to fifty in 28 balls and kicked on. Handscomb was the perfect foil, feeding him the strike and finding the boundary at regular intervals. The pair added 110 from just 70 balls before both men holed out in back-to-back overs.
The diminishing finisher
James Faulkner made a name for himself in international cricket as an exceptional power-hitting finisher in limited overs formats. But his BBL to-date has not matched his reputation. He has not been dismissed in his six innings, scoring 118 runs in total. However, he is only striking at 107 compared to his career rate of 124. He also averages a boundary every 9.5 deliveries across his career. He's faced 25 balls without a boundary across the last three games. That included the 12 balls he faced against the Renegades. He was fortunate Glenn Maxwell caught fire in the last four overs pounding two sixes and two fours in his 16-ball unbeaten 31. But it was the second time in the tournament the Stars have failed to double their total after 10 overs having been only one wicket down at halfway. Part of that was due to Nabi who bowled his last two overs during the last seven of innings, having bowled his first two in the Powerplay. His figures of 2 for 15 were incredible given the carnage around him.
Where's Worrall been?
The Stars pace bowling has been a problem all tournament. Worrall replaced Scott Boland, who had conceded 11.20 per over in his three games. Worrall bowled exceptionally well to the Renegades new top three. He swung the ball away prodigiously at good pace from both the right-handed Tim Ludeman and the left-handed Marcus Harris. He conceded just six runs from his first 11 deliveries before erring with his last ball to Ludeman. But his build-up of pressure helped Coleman force a mistake from Harris. Coleman bowled very well himself and picked up the rewards courtesy of some outstanding catching from Maxwell and Pietersen. Maxwell reeled a screamer at backward point off Ludeman. He flung his right hand up to knock it down and held onto the rebound. Pietersen needed just one grab with two hands diving high to his right at cover to remove Tom Cooper, although he did grass a similar chance from Matthew Short earlier.
Time in the middle
The Renegades had not lost more than one wicket in any powerplay all tournament and had scarcely been under pressure after 10 overs. Cooper's dismissal left the Renegades 4 for 56 in the 10th. Dwayne Bravo was able to move up the order having only been used in a finishing role during the season to-date. He made 26 from 18 balls and struck one of the most astonishing sixes of the tournament. He hit good length delivery from Faulkner 103m into the upper deck at forward point with a vertical bat. Despite holing out not long after, his innings will provide impetus for the remainder of the tournament. Wildermuth also played a nice cameo, clubbing 23 from 11 deliveries to keep the game interesting. His second six made the equation 33 from 12 balls but he fell three balls later and the tail stood no chance from there.