Stars go fifth as Renegades batting woes continue
Melbourne Stars are back in BBL|11 finals contention after easily accounting for the Renegades who put in another dismal batting effort in the second derby of the season
Jack Paynter at Marvel Stadium
13 January 2022, 11:41 PM AEST
Melbourne Renegades appear destined for a third straight wooden spoon as another miserable batting performance handed bragging rights to their cross-town rivals the Melbourne Stars.
Just two Renegades batters reached double figures as they slipped back to the bottom of the KFC BBL|11 table with two games left to play, the position where they have finished the past two seasons.
They were on the back foot from the outset as Stars' international paceman Haris Rauf, in his last game of the tournament before he leaves for the Pakistan Super League, set the game alight in the second over of the match after Renegades skipper Nic Maddinson opted to bat first at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.
The express paceman removed the experience duo of Shaun Marsh (7), who became the fifth opener trialled by the Renegades this season, and Maddinson two balls later for duck as they slumped to 2-9.
Jake Fraser-McGurk, who opened alongside Marsh, and Mackenzie Harvey tried to rebuild the innings cautiously, but Harvey kept Rauf in the action when he picked him out at deep mid-wicket off Adam Zampa (2-18) as he tried to up the ante.
Fraser-McGurk showed glimpses in his 39-ball 32 but ultimately was tied down by the Stars' world class spinners until he ran past one from Qais Ahmad (2-15) and was bowled.
Wicketkeeper-batter Sam Harper was also deceived by Qais – another international in his last game of the tournament due to Afghanistan national selection – and was out stumped before Jack Prestwidge became Zampa's second victim.
It was left to Australia's T20 skipper in Aaron Finch to singlehandedly get the Renegades to a competitive score but his fighting 45 from 44 balls proved in vain as they limped to 7-122 from their 20 overs.
In their 11 KFC BBL matches this season, the Renegades are averaging just 128 with the bat, with scores of 7-122, 105, 80, 121 and 100, and only seven half centuries.
It was a reckless start from the Stars in reply, with both Joe Clarke (10 off six) and Beau Webster (0) seeming like they were trying to get the runs in the first few overs.
Left-armer Josh Lalor (1-25) copped the full force of the early assault with his two overs in the four-over powerplay costing 25 runs.
Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns (17) consolidated with a 52-run partnership for the third wicket before the Queenslander holed out to mid-off.
But Maxwell was the ever present as he guided the Stars home with a fine captain's knock of 68 not out off 45 balls to ensure his side remains in the hunt for finals action and that elusive first title.
Maxwell worked the gaps through the middle of the innings once the required rate dropped below six an over as he established another partnership with Hilton Cartwright (12).
He then took the power surge to effectively ice the game, launching Cameron Boyce for 17 in the 14th over as the Stars cruised home by six wickets with more than five overs to spare.
Maxwell said his move to the top of the order was designed to get the Stars off to a quicker start and take some of the pressure off Clarke.
"I feel like I've been batting really well since I got back from playing the IPL, I feel like my batting has actually got to a stage where I'm feeling really technically right and I can adapt and expand from there," he said after the match.
"The last two weeks have been really difficult on the team and we feel like we've been thrown around a little bit, we had to play five games this week, which is pretty unheard of in Big Bash.
"The guys are cooked, there's no secret about that, we're all tired.
"But to the boys' credit they've kept their heads up, they've tried their backsides off to execute their skills under pressure and tonight was pretty much everything going right.
"We're fifth at the moment, we've got an opportunity to still make a massive road to the toward the end of the finals and that's what we're looking forward to now."
It's meant the clubs split the two Melbourne derbies this season after the Renegades got the better of the COVID-hit Stars in the first match-up at the MCG on January 3.
The Stars now travel to Adelaide for a match-up with the Strikers on Saturday knowing that if they keep winning their finals destiny will be in their own hands for their remaining three games.
The Renegades have now lost 29 of their past 40 Big Bash matches since beating the Stars to win the title in BBL|08.
They're not out of contention this season – they sit three points behind the Stars in fifth – but with a net run rate of -1.655 they face a monumental task of claiming that last finals spot in their last two games and would be relying on the Stars, Heat and Strikers to lose most of their remaining matches.