Head 71 ensures Strikers stay on top
Any lingering hopes for the Melbourne Renegades that they would sneak into the Big Bash League semi-finals were extinguished at the Docklands Stadium as they slid to a 22-run defeat at the hands of the Adelaide Strikers, who confirmed their spot at the to
Adelaide Strikers 5 for 166 (Head 71, Smith 41, Pattinson 1-12) beat Melbourne Renegades 7 for 144 (Stokes 33, Laughlin 2-24, Zampa 2-31) by 22 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Any lingering hopes the Melbourne Renegades had that they would sneak into the Big Bash League semi-finals were extinguished at the Docklands Stadium as they slid to a 22-run defeat at the hands of the Adelaide Strikers, who confirmed their spot at the top of the table.
A very special innings of 71 from just 34 balls from Travis Head
elevated the Strikers to 5 for 166, which proved too much for the Renegades who never really threatened to hunt down that target.
The Strikers' batting this season has been defined by the aggressive starts provided by Craig Simmons and Tim Ludeman, but today, in a stadium with drop-in pitches that has seen two team-scores of less than 100 in consecutive matches, the Strikers opted for caution in the Powerplay.
Such care made little difference to the score as a superb start with the ball and in the field from the Renegades set the Strikers back to 3 for 27. James Pattinson bowled all four of his overs in one spell, conceding just three runs from his first 19 deliveries before leaking two boundaries in his final over to finish with 1 for 12, taking the wicket of Simmons in the fifth over with a delivery that shaped away to find the edge.
Ludeman also fell in the Powerplay for a 10-ball 4 when Fawad Ahmed's direct hit from the deep caught the batsman short of a second run. Two balls later, Ryan ten Doeschate was dismissed, dragging on a delivery from Nathan Rimmington that was angled in and jagged away. The Strikers' understandable but uncharacteristic caution had left them no better off.
Ten Doeschate's departure brought together 21-year-old Head and the 20 year-old debutant Kelvin Smith, and the young pair consolidated and later accelerated the Strikers innings to forge a record fourth-wicket stand.
Head kick-started his innings with fours through mid-on and mid-wicket in the seventh over, but he and Smith both continued with caution and then pro-activity. Head's innings unfurled after his first 13 deliveries from which he had scored just 15 runs. An all-out assault on Ben Stokes in the 12th over saw the first three balls hit for six; the second an outrageous lofted cover drive. While Smith could do little more than rotate the strike on a tacky pitch, Head transcended the conditions to play one of the innings of the season.
More remarkable shots followed, as a slashing cut through point, a clubbed straight six and a clip over the infield took Head to his second fifty of the season. After a sedate start, he had accelerated to score 56 from his last 21 balls. He eventually fell when he failed to clear Stokes at deep mid-wicket, but the match had been turned upside down by his audacious and powerful stroke play.
Two further overs of consolidation then followed, as Johan Botha joined Smith for the fifth wicket. Botha clubbed two fours and a six before he was caught attempting another boundary off a reverse sweep in the penultimate delivery of the innings. Smith, though, remained unbeaten, finishing on 41 from 34 balls. More importantly, he expertly anchored the final nine overs of the innings in which the Strikers bludgeoned 104 runs for the loss of just two wickets.
The Renegades needed to not only win, but win well to keep their qualification chances alive. They never looked like doing either. A painful innings from Matthew Wade - 22 from 34 deliveries including 16 dot balls - epitomised the Renegades' struggles as they failed to establish any momentum.
They lost both Alex Doolan and Callum Ferguson before the Powerplay was over, and once they were behind the rate when they exited it at 2 for 39, their chances were already slipping away as the Strikers deployed their spinners.
Adam Zampa and Botha have both conceded runs at less than six per over during the middle overs this season, and they put the squeeze on again today despite some powerful hitting from Stokes, who made 33 before falling to the leg-spin of Zampa. Wade's 34-ball innings was ended just two overs later, and there was a sense that the Renegades had already given up real hope. Shakib and Tom Beaton hit some lusty late blows, but the target was always out of reach as they eventually closed their innings with 7 for 144.
Defeat for the Renegades completes the semi-final line-up of the Strikers, Perth Scorchers, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, with another home semi-final still up for grabs.