Nine deliveries, 16 runs and three wickets featured in one of the most bizarre final overs in BBL history. But the Melbourne Renegades kept their finals hopes alive with a nail-biting one-run win over the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba.
The equation was simple at the beginning of the final over. The Heat needed 18 runs to secure a home final. Nathan Rimmington needed to defend 16 or less to keep the Renegades alive.
Rimmington did his job, but only just. He bowled four wides, conceded two sixes, took the wicket of Joe Burns and completed two run-outs in roller-coaster ride that would have left the most adventurous of thrill-seekers feeling nauseous.
It had been a night for the batsmen. The Renegades had set a big total of 199 on the back of a stunning opening stand from Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris. They scored 106 runs in just nine overs before Harris fell.
The Heat then trumped that start with the second-highest score in the Powerplay in BBL history. Brendon McCullum and Sam Heazlett took 84 from the first five overs of the chase. The Renegades, though, pulled Heat back courtesy outstanding spells from Thisara Perera and Brad Hogg. Extraordinary hitting from Ben Cutting and Joe Burns and some rain then added to the drama of the final overs but the Renegades somehow held their nerve.
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The final over of the match from Rimmington had to be seen to be believed. The Renegades had lost three final-over thrillers this season with Finch, Perera and James Pattinson all entrusted with the final six balls and all conceding the winning runs. Finch turned to Rimmington for this over instead of Pattinson after Perera, one of their best bowlers on the night, had bowled out. Rimmington had bowled an excellent 18th over, conceding just eight runs and removing Cutting, who had scored a rampaging 35 from 18 balls and was threatening to end the Renegades’ season. Burns was 23 from 19 balls and had only found the boundary once, so the Renegades were favourites.
But Rimmington bowled a wide first ball, attempting a yorker. 17 off 6 balls. Burns then nailed two short balls over the long boundary at midwicket for sixes. 5 off 4. He got a third in the slot but mis-hit it to long-off and Perera held on to keep things interesting. 5 off 3. Rimmington bowled another wide. 4 off 3. Buchanan nailed the next – a full wide ball – to cover where Finch gathered and fired at the non-striker’s end. Rimmington’s collect to break the stumps was superb as Buchanan was run-out. 4 off 2. Rimmington bowled another wide to Mark Steketee. 3 off 2. He tried the wide yorker for a sixth time in the over and finally got it inside the guideline beating Steketee, who strangely backed away to leg, for a dot ball. 3 off 1. Rimmington went wide again for the final ball. Swepson got a running start at the non-striker’s end, hoping to run two for a super over if Steketee made contact, but he instead left alone another wide only to look up and see his team-mate charging at him. Debutant wicketkeeper Andrew Harriott threw the ball to Rimmington and the run-out ended the game. Although not everyone on the ground was certain of the result, with Finch admitting later he thought it was only the eighth wicket.
Finch has responded to his axing from the Australian one-day side in the finest possible fashion with three half-centuries in his last four BBL innings. This was the most destructive. He clubbed 71 from 35 balls with six fours and four sixes. He started in the first over with a mammoth hit over cover that landed in the second tier. Incredibly, he played second fiddle to Harris for the next three overs. At the end of the fourth over Harris was 30 from 15 balls while Finch had scored just 18 from nine balls. But he took charge in the eighth over. He was gifted a life, and six runs, from Burns in the deep during a hat-trick of bombs off Marnus Labuschagne. Callum Ferguson also played a vital hand scoring 31 not out from 15 balls to help get the total up to 199.
Now the waiting begins
The result puts the Renegades into the top four on the table for now. The Heat’s loss means a home final is in jeopardy. Everything now hangs on Saturday’s matches. If the Scorchers beat the Hurricanes and the Stars account for the Sixers, the Renegades will play in the finals. But if the Sixers beat the Stars, then the Renegades will likely be squeezed out due to an inferior net run-rate. The Hurricanes are now likely to miss out on the finals after the Heat’s loss even if they beat the Scorchers due to a very poor net run-rate. Peter Nevill might be available for a potential final after being cleared of a facial fracture. He could come back in for Harriott who did a fine job having been plucked from NSW premier cricket to make his T20 debut at the Gabba. He took two catches and kept well throughout.
Hogg, the unsung hero
While Finch was named Man of the Match, his 71 was just one of a number of blistering knocks on a night where the batsmen were very productive. McCullum also set the Gabba alight with a fifty off 18 balls, but, arguably, it was Hogg who turned the game. McCullum was a runaway freight train in the first five overs before Perera arrived and bowled a brilliant sixth over, conceding just a single. Hogg then spun his web. His first three overs cost only eight runs, all singles, although there were five leg byes. McCullum scored just six runs from his next 17 balls after reaching fifty. Overall, Hogg bowled nine balls to McCullum and conceded only two runs. He also removed the dangerous Alex Ross to apply additional pressure on the Heat.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth