Melbourne Stars 3 for 169 (Maxwell 83*) beat Melbourne Renegades 7 for 168 (Marsh 63) by seven wickets
A Glenn Maxwell masterclass helped the Melbourne Stars cruise past the Melbourne Renegades and remain entrenched at the top of the BBL table.
The Stars were 3 for 54 in the seventh over chasing a tricky target of 169, but Maxwell worked his way through the gears to make a flawless 83 not out from 45 balls to mow down the target with eight balls to spare and seven wickets in hand.
He struck seven sixes and ran 10 twos. He got outstanding support from Nick Larkin as they shared an unbeaten 114-run stand, of which Larkin contributed just 31.
Earlier, the Stars' bowlers pegged back the Renegades with an outstanding last four overs. Haris Rauf and Nathan Coulter-Nile starred as the Renegades lost 4 for 22 having looked set to make 180-plus. Shaun Marsh hit 63 and shared an 86-run opening stand with Marcus Harris but it went to waste as the innings fell away badly.
Change brings returns
Aaron Finch's departure for Australian duty meant the Renegades had to make one change at the top. They made two. Marsh returned to his natural habitat while Harris was promoted. The former was a fait accompli, the latter a genuine surprise. Sam Harper had given the Renegades dynamic starts all year and top-scored with 73 in their last game but was slid all the way to No.6. The change worked. Marsh and Harris put on 86 in 10.3 overs to give the Renegades their best start for the year. They punished anything short, with Stars debutant Lance Morris getting clubbed over the fence twice by Harris. The two left-handers found the boundary in every single over bar the first without taking any undue risks. That was until Harris took on Hilton Cartwright for a reckless single and was run out by a classy direct hit.
Old habits die hard
Stand-in skipper Dan Christian had spoken in the build-up about the need for his top-order players to push onto 70-80 and take the innings deep. Marsh was unable to fulfill his captain's wish whee chipped a return catch to Sandeep Lamichhane with 39 balls left in the innings. Beau Webster and Christian were promoted to Nos. 3 and 4 and it seemed a masterstroke as they smashed 33 off the next 16 balls including three towering sixes. But Maxwell turned to his big guns in Sandeep Lamichhane, Haris Rauf and Nathan Coulter-Nile with the trio taking 4 for 22 in four overs. Rauf conceded just eight runs off the bat in 12 balls and Coulter-Nile deceived both Tom Cooper and Harper with brilliant slower balls. Marcus Stoinis produced an excellent run out from the deep on the last ball to save another run as the Renegades turned an almost guaranteed total of 180-plus into just 168.
Stoinis wore the gold cap proudly in the field as the BBL's leading scoring, but he miscued in the first over of the chase and failed to add to his total. Samit Patel was used first up in a specific match-up and it worked a treat as Stoinis faced two dots before holing out to mid-off. Patel let himself down shortly after dropping a sitter off Ben Dunk before Webster made amends to remove Dunk with a stunning diving catch at mid-off. Cartwright struck the ball powerfully in a new role opening as he clubbed 35 from 21 balls with four fours and a six before playing around a leg break that slid on from Cameron Boyce. The Stars slipped to 3 for 54.
Maxwell entered this game with scores of 40 not out and 59 not out in the Stars last two matches to make light work of two simple chases. The Renegades set him a task here needing 115 from 79 balls with Stoinis already out and Pete Handscomb absent. He rose to the occasion and put on a clinic. He started in first gear with one boundary in his first 11 balls before he struck his first six, but thereafter he was calculated. He and Larkin ran 10 twos, eight off the bat of Maxwell as he placed and weighted his shots with supreme skill. He didn't attack the spinners, instead playing risk-free cricket. Then with 60 needed from 30 balls, with Patel bowled out, he flicked the switch. He struck six sixes in 16 balls, five off pace bowlers. Each was bigger than the next. He sealed it with a monster over square leg to win with a scarcely believable eight balls to spare.