Harris, Perera help Renegades stay alive

Melbourne Renegades ensured they stayed alive in the competition with a six-run win over Adelaide Strikers on Monday (January 16), much to the disappointment of the Adelaide crowd who had to watch their home side’s campaign come to an end. Strikers and Renegades came into Match 27 of the Big Bash League with only one option – of winning – in order to keep their season alive.

Strikers won the toss and elected to field in front of a packed Adelaide Oval but in-form opener Marcus Harris got Renegades off to a quickfire start. He slammed four boundaries off Wes Agar in the third over to give their innings momentum. Aaron Finch ensured that he matched his opening partner as he sent three more deliveries racing towards the boundary ropes in the next over, and the duo raced to the 50-run mark in just 26 deliveries.

Michael Neser, coming on to bowl his second over, ended the opening partnership after Ben Laughlin took a superb running diving catch to dismiss Finch at deep mid wicket. Wickets continued to fall thereafter at regular intervals even as Harris kept going strong. Cameron White (10 runs off 10) and Tom Cooper (14 runs off 12) got off to good starts, but both fell in an attempt to hit the big shot. While Ludeman handed a catch to the deep midwicket fielder, Cooper ended up getting the toe-end of the bat to the wicketkeeper.

Renegades’ momentum was broken and the innings fell apart after the dismissal of Harris. The left-handed opener, who slapped six boundaries and four huge sixes holed out to Jono Dean at long on. Ben Laughlin varied his pace smartly to make it difficult for Renegades’ lower order to score briskly. Callum Ferguson made a useful contribution with his 16-ball 26, but the last six batsmen in the line-up managed to add only 10 runs as Renegades managed to put on only 22 runs in the last 25 balls, and finish the innings on 171 for 9.

Strikers openers Ben Dunk and Tim Ludeman then helped the Strikers off to a good start. With a target of 171 to chase, the challenge was, at best, competitive. However after the duo struck in quick succession, the middle order batsmen failed to capitalise on the start.

Jake Weatherald and Kieron Pollard too failed to take advantage after getting off to good starts. Brad Hogg and Thisara Perera provided the breaks and kept the flow of runs in check. Perera’s slower ones, especially, became hard to put away as he ended with four wickets in three overs.

Meanwhile in the first ball of the of the 18th over, Peter Nevill got hit by the bat, that left the grip of Brad Hodge, on the head and had him falling in pain. This was the second time in the tournament that Nevill has been hit on his head and has had to leave the field. A week ago, in the match against Sydney Sixers, while collecting the throw from boundary, the ball had bounced awkwardly and hit his head. For the second time in the season, Aaron Finch temporarily donned the wicketkeeper’s gloves for his side.

With 35 runs needed off the last two overs, Jonathon Dean smashed two sixes off the first two deliveries off the penultimate over bowled by Sunil Narine to bring the equation down to 23 from 10. Given the see-saw nature of the contest, Renegades were left with needing 10 runs off the last two balls. Ish Sodhi pulled the penultimate delivery of the match, which was well cut-off by Cameron White that left his side needing eight runs off the last.

Brief Scores: Melbourne Renegades 171/9 in 20 overs (Marcus Harris 85, Callum Ferguson 26; Kieron Pollard 3-30, Michael Neser 2-14) beat Adelaide Strikers 165/8 in 20 overs (Ben Dunk 32, Tim Ludeman 29; Thisara Perera 4-25, Nathan Rimmington 1-14) by 6 runs.

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