print icon

Mackenzie Harvey and Beau Webster pull off Melbourne Renegades heist

Melbourne Stars looked to be cruising but now their hopes of qualifying to the playoffs have taken a hit

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Melbourne Renegades 5 for 160 (Harvey 47*, Coulter-Nile 3-41) beat Melbourne Stars 6 for 158 (Larkin 61*) by five wickets
An extraordinary, unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 63 in just 25 balls between Mackenzie Harvey and Beau Webster dragged Melbourne Renegades to only their third win of the season and put a dent in their cross-town rivals' qualification hopes.
Shuffling up and down the order, Harvey had struggled for any rhythm or form this season, and arrived at No. 6 with 71 needed off 37 balls in a chase of 159. But with licence to free his arms, he pumped three fours and a six in the Power Surge before punishing some shoddy death bowling with Webster for company to seal an improbable win.
Melbourne Stars looked to be cruising to a four-point victory which would have taken them second after securing the Bash Boost thanks to a tight start with the ball, but instead their playoff chances are now in jeopardy. They sit third with 24 points, but have played a game more than the four teams hot on their heels, and play the in-form Perth Scorchers in their next fixture on Saturday.
For the Renegades, this was a happy homecoming after a 359-day stretch without playing at Marvel Stadium. They were already mathematically out of contention for the finals, but after their top five had contributed a combined 84 runs off 88 balls, they sent a 14,208-strong crowd home happy thanks to Harvey's heroics.
Harvey the hero
There was little in Harvey's BBL career to suggest that he was capable of such a heist from the middle order. A slight, 20-year-old left-hander and the nephew of former Australia international Ian, he had managed only 268 runs in his 18 previous innings in the competition, at a strike rate of 118.58.
He had generally been used as an opener rather than in the No. 6 role he played tonight, but his cameo of 29 off 17 in Sunday's reverse fixture turned out to be a sign of things to come.
Harvey arrived at the crease during a turgid innings of 14 off 18 balls from Jack Prestwidge, who had been promoted to No. 5. The Renegades had attempted to take the Power Surge ahead of the 14th over, but told the umpires too late and instead pushed it back until the 16th. When it was taken, Prestwidge was bounced out by Nathan Coulter-Nile's third ball, but Harvey slapped the fourth through extra cover and hammered the fifth for six over backward square.
He added two more boundaries off Adam Zampa's final over, the second of the Surge, steering through third man and muscling over mid-on, before Liam Hatcher was taken for three fours as he sprayed the ball around in the 18th, with dew making it difficult to grip.
With 25 needed from 12 balls, Harvey clubbed a juicy full toss from Coulter-Nile into the second tier, before Webster steered another through point then carved six over midwicket to leave six required off the last. After three singles, Webster smashed the winning boundary through mid-on to seal the win.
Finch's nightmare continues
Aaron Finch's BBL season has contained enough unfortunate dismissals for a 10-minute YouTube compilation, and his luck did not change tonight. He got down to sweep Zahir Khan in the final Powerplay over of the chase, but could only deflect the ball onto his stumps via the thigh pad. After his 10 tonight, he has managed only 169 runs in 11 innings.
With Shaun Marsh falling to a perfect Coulter-Nile offcutter in the first over and Sam Harper and Jake Fraser-McGurk struggling to adapt to a slowish pitch, the Renegades were 3 for 53 at the halfway stage, 11 runs short of the Bash Boost target, and looked like they would come nowhere near chasing 159.
Zak attack
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Stars struggled for early rhythm, with Andre Fletcher soaking up a first-over maiden from Josh Lalor. Lalor bowled him with a slower ball in the third over, but Marcus Stoinis looked in fine touch, crashing six early boundaries as he looked to drive the Stars' innings.
When he fell in the ninth over to Zak Evans - playing after Kane Richardson was ruled out for the season with a quad strain - the Stars decided to shuffle things around. Hoping to maximise their 10-over total in order to secure the Bash Boost point, the Stars promoted Coulter-Nile - fit again after a calf injury - to No. 4, but the experiment was short lived.
Shaping to work an Evans slower ball down to fine leg, Coulter-Nile managed to play on via the pad, and was out first ball. With Nick Larkin struggling for early rhythm, the Stars were 3 for 63 at the halfway stage.
Larkin, the Stars' fillip
With Larkin on 14 off 21 balls heading into the 12th over, Glenn Maxwell decided he needed to take Imad Wasim on, after managing just two dots and a single from the first three balls of his innings. But, shimmying outside leg, he skied a slog-sweep straight down deep midwicket's throat, leaving the Stars in a spot of bother at 4 for 77.
Nic Maddinson forced the pace with two heaves over midwicket and a slap through extra cover, but miscued to mid-off immediately after calling for the Power Surge at the start of the 17th over for 21 off 18 balls. Peter Hatzolgou, the idiosyncratic legspinner, picked up his second Surge wicket - and his fifth of the season - soon after, with Hilton Cartwright chopping on when cramped for room.
After eking out 29 off his first 35 balls, perhaps trying too hard to hit boundaries, Larkin finally cut loose in the second Surge over with a slog-swept six and a slash through point for four off Wasim.
Three streaky fours through third man and a carve through cover in the final two overs dragged the Stars up to 6 for 158, with Larkin finishing on 61 off 47. Thirty of those runs came between point and third man, including several thick edges, while ESPNcricinfo's data suggested he was in control of only 62% of the balls he faced.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98