The fans turned out en masse at the MCG and Luke Wright stepped up on the big stage with a century, as Melbourne Stars scored a seven-wicket win over Melbourne Renegades in front of a record Big Bash League crowd.
The 80,883-strong crowd easily eclipsed the previous record of 52,637, set at Adelaide Oval, and created an electric atmosphere, with the superb unbeaten innings of 109 off 63 balls from the English import guiding Stars home with five balls to spare.
The crowd also put the 53,389 that turned out to day one of the Boxing Day Test well in the shade.
As much as Wright dazzled, many of those fans came for the tantalising match-up between big-hitters Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen.
But it failed to live up to the hype, with Gayle making just four runs and Pietersen out for six.
Having won the toss and sending Renegades in, Stars restricted their cross-town rivals to 7-161, then overcame the early losses of Marcus Stoinis and Pietersen to notch their second win from four matches in BBL05.
In a pivotal moment late in the Stars run chase, a dropped catch by Tom Beaton rolled to the boundary for four when Wright was on 64. The Englishman then rubbed salt into the wounds with a pair of towering sixes off the next two deliveries from Xavier Doherty.
Former Star Cameron White marked his first match against his old side with a well made 54 from 39 balls – the highlight of Renegades’ innings.
Skipper Aaron Finch passed 4,000 career runs in Twenty20 cricket, but he was dismissed after making 36 off 29 balls.
Gayle spooned an easy catch to Pietersen at mid-on off the bowling of John Hastings. Amazingly, Pietersen was speaking to Channel 10 commentators on the live telecast as Hastings came in to bowl to Gayle.
“I will be very happy if that bloke who is down there who is currently batting knocks one up in the air here,” Pietersen said.
“We’ve all seen him start slowly but he can explode.”
Hastings was the pick of the Stars bowlers with figures of 4-29 from his four overs.