Gayle, Finch power Renegades to five-wicket win
Chris Tremain strangled the Hobart Hurricanes in the middle overs, before Chris Gayle and Aaron Finch powered the Melbourne Renegades to a five-wicket win in Hobart
Over the last week, Hobart has hosted the Taste of Tasmania event on the shores of its harbour. The festival showed off the best of the island's fine food and drink, in a picturesque location, with the weather wonderful. It was evidence that Tasmania has much going for it.
Tasmania, however, for all those abundant virtues, does not smack as Chris Gayle's sort of place. Gayle is not renowned for his love of craggy coastline, picturesque woodland, or varied flora and fauna. In Hobart, there may be dancing girls, but they don't immediately meet the eye, and it's not a famous hub for collectors of bling. In this light, it was unsurprising that Gayle batted like a man in a hurry to get back to the mainland.
After a slow start, welcome to the Big Bash League, Chris. Gayle faced only 15 deliveries. Three of the first five went for four, and the next two went for six. Another six, another four and a few drag-footed singles later and he was gone, his dismissal coming entirely in the spirit of Gayleism; a legside hoick shorn of its power as he slipped, tumbling as if a lumberjack had been hacking away at his trunk. Sensing a moment, Channel Ten bravely sent their reporter Mel McLaughlin to get some sharp, on the spot analysis from the West Indian, but, ever the opportunist, Gayle continued to play shots. "Hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after. Don't blush baby," he said. McLaughlin gave Gayle suitably short shrift, and minutes later, the network - after briefly exploiting the situation on Twitter - were issuing an apology
Gayle's batting had been far more endearing. After a series of trademark, brutal biffs to legs and a superb straight driven six off Shaun Tait, he fell to the last ball of the Powerplay but by then, the game's result was beyond doubt. Eventually, the Melbourne Renegades - having looked on for an even more comprehensive thrashing - only won by five wickets. Aaron Finch, playing his last game before joining up with Australia's ODI squad, almost saw them home, before, like Gayle, falling to Cameron Boyce, who impressed once more, caught at deep midwicket.
Finch had played a series of outstanding cover drives and flicks to leg in his 60, but it was his first act of the night that proved most decisive. Heading into this game, these two teams were travelling in different directions. The Renegades had lost their last three games, all batting first (having lost the toss); the Hurricanes had won their last three (having twice won the toss), all bowling first.
It's amazing what happens when the coin falls your way. Unsurprisingly when the coin landed in his favour for the first time this season, Finch chose to field first. This played to the Renegades' strengths, leaving their powerful batting line-up to chase whatever their seemingly weaker bowling attack served them; in their last two games, they'd managed just three wickets in a pair of thumping defeats.
The batsmen weren't left with a great deal to haul down as, on a tacky pitch and after Finch sprung a surprise by opening the bowling with two spinners, they had three wickets - key wickets - by the end of the Powerplay and their season was back on track. Tim Paine played all round a Xavier Doherty turner, before the Hurricanes' key men Kumar Sangakkara and George Bailey fell to peculiar shots as the pressure told. Sangakkara uppercut the excellent Chris Tremain straight to third man, and Bailey slapped Cameron Gannon straight to mid-off. The Renegades had found 14 consecutive dot balls, and two straight wicket maidens. The result was the lowest-scoring Powerplay of the tournament, as the the Hurricanes finished 20 for 3.
Dan Christian led a Hurricanes fightback, of sorts. The allrounder carefully played himself in, with seven of his first nine deliveries dots, before pummelling Nathan Rimmington over the short cover boundary for six and continuing to accelerate. Cameron Gannon's 14th over was taken for two more sixes, before one stroke too many saw Christian sky Xavier Doherty to long-on. Shortly before, Ben Dunk, who was far less fluent but held the innings together and played a pair of good off-side scythes, had been caught at deep midwicket.
Some resourceful hitting from Jonathan Wells hauled the Hurricanes to 140, but it never looked enough. With Gayle in a hurry to get out of town, the drubbing - a major blow to the Hurricanes' finals aspirations - was never in doubt.