Melbourne Renegades 139 for 6 (Russell 57, Finch 31*, Neser 4-32) beat Brisbane Heat 137 for 8 (Peirson 45*, Rogers 4-23, Hosein 3-26) by four wickets
marked his BBL return with a hat-trick before a resurgent Melbourne Renegades rode an outrageous counterattack from Andre Russell
to defeat Brisbane Heat once again.
On a tricky surface at Geelong's GMHBA Stadium, Renegades were in major trouble in their chase of 138 after Neser's heroics. But Russell turned the match on its head with 57 off 42 balls punctuated by six mighty sixes.
In a see-saw finish, continuing a string of tight finishes to start BBL12, a scratchy Aaron Finch held his nerve to hit the winning boundary in the final over as Renegades celebrated their third straight win to start the season.
Heat are winless having lost both their games to Renegades.
Neser returns to the BBL in style
Relieved of Test duties, Neser enjoyed his return to the BBL with a wicket first ball to dismiss Sam Harper, who flicked a leg-stump half-volley straight to the fielder inside the ring.
But there was nothing fortuitous when Neser found the perfect line and length to graze the edge of Jake Fraser-McGurk's bat in the last ball of the first over.
With his next ball, in the third over, Neser bowled Renegades' captain Nic Maddison, who chopped onto his stumps, before claiming a hat-trick in stunning style by rattling the stumps after Jonathan Wells didn't play a shot.
Bowling with unrelenting accuracy, much like his impressive performance against West Indies in the Adelaide Test
, Neser was unplayable until Russell dented his figures.
It might be a different format but Neser showed why he is unlucky not to be a regular member of Australia's stacked pace attack in Test cricket. In a silver lining, he produced just the ninth BBL hat-trick.
Dre Russ launches audacious counterattack
At 9 for 4, there were shades of Sydney Thunder's embarrassing all out 15 but Russell made a mockery of conditions and Renegades' precarious position. He smashed three sixes off a red-hot Neser to change the complexion of the game within minutes.
Heat's captain Jimmy Peirson gambled with spinner Mitchell Swepson in the sixth over and Russell promptly greeted him with a massive six over long-on. It was either feast or famine for the West Indian, whose first four scoring shots were sixes.
With brute power, Russell wound the clock back to notch up his first BBL half-century in his 25th innings. But he appeared to have suffered a wrist injury and wasn't quite the same as his belligerent innings came to an end in the 15th over amid the power surge.
In the midst of a brief four match-stint before playing in the UAE's inaugural ILT20 league, Russell made a big impact having previously expressed disappointment of being overlooked during the BBL draft.
Renegades recruit Rogers menaces on tricky surface
After Heat elected to bat, Maddinson gave the new ball to spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who was playing against his old side, and Akeal Hosein
It proved a masterstroke as they removed big-hitting Max Bryant and Colin Munro, but Renegades' attack was soon thwarted by Matthew Renshaw and Sam Billings.
Straight after the drinks break, seamer Tom Rogers
delivered by removing Billings with a sharp delivery to catch the edge and later in the over he bowled Renshaw, who played on after failing to cope with the extra bounce.
Rogers continued to extract menacing bounce from the surface, with one rising delivery hitting Peirson on the back of the neck, and added two more wickets to his career-best BBL performance.
Renegades have had a revival so far this season with the recruitment of Rogers proving key. The 28-year-old enjoyed a breakout last season with Hobart Hurricanes, where he claimed 20 wickets
He's now taken seven wickets in three games this season and beefed up Renegades' attack along with Mujeeb and left-arm spinner Hosein, who finished with three wickets and also starred with the bat.
Heat's top-order troubles
Life without Chris Lynn has proven tough for Heat after two modest batting efforts against Renegades. They hoped the inclusion of Renshaw would prove a tonic after he missed the opener due to the birth of his first child.
The in-form Renshaw has made a strong start to the domestic season in the longer formats and he looked composed in his BBL season debut in a steady partnership with Billings. Renshaw and Billings, however, couldn't capitalise on their platform leaving Heat in a hole before Peirson came to the rescue with a flurry of late boundaries.
But their total ultimately proved not enough, leaving Heat's hierarchy needing to ponder how to get their batting order firing.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth