Adelaide Strikers' bowlers backed up a strong batting effort that combined industrious running and power-hitting, to secure a 67-run win against the Melbourne Renegades at the Adelaide Oval.
The decently populated Adelaide Oval sported a blue tinge, with the local Twenty20 team swapping their red jerseys for sky blue. There was a sea of blue wigs around, but those who decided to show up in the usual South Australia Redbacks colours were in for a surprise: their red and black ensemble had more in common with the visiting Renegades' uniform. The home side, however, ensured there was no surprise in the denouement, after dominating the match from start to finish.
The Renegades batsmen never looked like chasing down the imposing target of 190. A shower towards the end of the Strikers' innings resulted in a fresh track, which all of their bowlers used well upfront, extracting movement and lift. As a result, the Renegades limped to 3 for 62 in 10 overs, and with the required-rate almost up to 13 at that point, the game was as good as over. There was no typical late Twenty20 twist this time, as the Renegades folded for 122 in 17.5 overs.
After the gloomy weather that threatened to stop play all through the Strikers innings, the Renegades came out to bat in bright sunshine. Alfonso Thomas, one of the better Twenty20 bowlers going around, had Aaron Finch and Meyrick Buchanan in trouble straight up: he had Finch beaten with movement, and Buchanan struggling to prevent the ball from rolling back onto his stumps. In the next over, Kane Richardson followed up two balls down the leg side by removing slip and strengthening the off-side field. If it was a ploy to tempt the batsman, it worked. Finch tried to sweep, top-edged and was caught by Aiden Blizzard at midwicket.
Glenn Maxwell came in and the tentative shot-making continued. The pressure got the Strikers a run out. Buchanan pulled and turned for a second, only to be sent back by Maxwell and fall well short of his crease. Shahid Afridi walked out with the required-rate mounting, and got his first boundary off a top edge to wide mid-on. The first convincing shot of the innings came from Maxwell, who stepped out to Aaron O'Brien and lofted him over cover for four. Maxwell, who ended up top-scoring with 46, also hit the first six of the innings - slog-sweeping a flighted ball from Nathan Lyon over midwicket - but the required momentum never came.
Afridi fell to Richardson, depositing a length ball on off stump in Lyon's hands at long-off, and the required-rate touched 12 with a little over 11 overs remaining. Captain Andrew McDonald hung around for a bit, but the rest of the lower order capsized to hand the Strikers an easy victory.
Strikers' innings was set up by a busy opening stand between Daniel Harris and Michael Klinger, in which they put on 86 in 9.5 overs. They complemented the boundaries they hit - Harris favoured the leg side, while Klinger creamed fours through cover - with some fine running between the wickets, picking up a number of twos. Both were out just short of their fifties, but by then the Strikers had a solid platform and the middle order capitalised.
Aiden Blizzard kept the runs ticking through the middle overs, before Cameron Borgas and Adam Crosthwaite teed off in the death. The 18th over, bowled by Dirk Nannes, included a pair of sixes from Crosthwaite off consecutive balls. The best over of the innings was yet to come, though. In the next over, Borgas used Shaun Tait's pace to help him over fine-leg for six before swatting a length delivery over midwicket. He followed that up with two fours, both powerful pulls through midwicket. It was around this point that the rain came down, but the umpires kept the players on, a good move in hindsight as the clouds blew over quickly.