Sport Cricket Big Bash League Big Bash finals: Renegades defeat Sixers in a cliffhanger

Big Bash finals: Renegades defeat Sixers in a cliffhanger

BBL 08 REnegades v Sixers
Dan Christian and Kane Richardson of the Renegades celebrate the winning runs at Marvel Stadium on Friday. Photo: Getty
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Bearded all-rounder Dan Christian has rescued a faltering semi-final run chase to drive his Melbourne Renegades into a Big Bash League title showdown with crosstown rivals the Melbourne Stars.

“We felt like we scraped into the finals,” he said after the match. “The next thing we’re hosting one, and we’re hosting the final too.” That’s just what happens with Christian around.

It didn’t look likely when the visiting Sydney Sixers piled on 3-180 on a ground that hadn’t topped 150 all season. A slow pitch has meant Marvel Stadium in Melbourne’s Docklands hasn’t matched its billing.

As the Renegades prepared to reply, much was made of the team’s tally of three half-centuries during the season. (The next lowest was nine.)

But they need fifties. Aaron Finch’s 44 anchored the chase, while Sam Harper and Cameron White blazed at the other end for 36 and 29. Even Tom Cooper’s fast 14 was significant in keeping in touch.

Christian’s unbeaten 31 was the most important, coming from 14 balls at the back of the innings when the game was slipping away.

The Renegades needed 49 from 30 when he came out at the fall of the fifth wicket. Finch’s leave of sanity soon cost the sixth.

Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe had started the innings with the first, as the left-handed Marcus Harris galloped down the pitch to miss one of the wildest swlogs you’ll see.

Having made it to the 16th over, the other opener Finch contrived to recreate that dismissal to perfection. The right-handed batsman played a switch hit to become a left-hander, charged, and missed by just as much.

That left Christian needing 46 from 24, batting with the leg-spinner Cameron Boyce. It became 33 from 15 as the tension climbed.

But a gorgeous inside-out cover drive for six from Ben Dwarshuis signalled another twist, and Christian then belted Sean Abbott over the rope, straight. Christian then all but killed the contest with a six over point with another lavish drive.

Having reduced the ask to seven from the last over, it didn’t even matter when Boyce accidentally kicked his stumps, as Kane Richardson swung and hoped and found the winning boundary to take the score to 7 for 184.

“Mahendra Singh Christian, that’s all I can say,” was the admiring take from Big Bash expert Brad Hodge.

Earlier, it was the Sixers batsmen who made fifties and lost regardless. Josh Philippe and Daniel Hughes each made 52 at strike rates above 160, raising the team’s 100 right on the halfway mark.

“They’re going to get the highest score at the Docklands in BBL08 by about the 15th over,” remarked commentator Damien Fleming.

But after picking up both openers, Boyce combined with Richardson and Harry Gurney to apply the brakes as Moises Henriques and James Vince struggled to accelerate much past a run a ball.

Despite Jordan Silk being dropped by Mackenzie Harvey and then finishing the innings with a six, the last eight overs were kept to 59 runs and the Renegades felt they were in the contest.

This was reflected when Harper produced a stunning cut shot and square drive for sixes, and more so when White had a vintage cameo.

He launched Test spinner Nathan Lyon almost into the second tier of the stands, then reverse-swept him for four, then forced a back-foot boundary through cover with the most minimal follow-through off Abbott.

But when he chopped on moments later, it looked as if an old curse was about to manifest – a BBL veteran in both the Melbourne franchises, White has lost five BBL finals matches in his career.

This time, he got a win. The off-season recruitment of Christian was powerful enough to break even that jinx.

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