Two wickets on his return to Hobart and a comprehensive win for the Melbourne Renegades has Xavier Doherty hopeful his side can reverse their fortunes when they take on the Stars in front of what's expected to be another huge crowd this Saturday night in the Melbourne derby.
The Renegades' season was more or less on the line when they took on an in-form Hurricanes side at Blundstone Arena last night, with just one win from four matches and a steady decline across three straight defeats.
And it was Doherty who triggered a Hurricanes top-order collapse, bowling Tim Paine in his first over – the second of the match – and beginning a dominant evening for the visitors.
WATCH: Doherty dupes Paine with a beauty
The left-arm tweaker later returned to remove the dangerous Dan Christian, finishing with 2-19 from his three overs.
It was a marked improvement for Doherty, after he went wicketless for returns of 42 and 43 in his most recent outings, against the Sixers and Stars respectively.
Quick Single: Renegades keep their season alive
"Tonight was nice," he told bigbash.com.au. "I've had a couple of disappointing turnouts in the last couple of games, so the ball felt like it was coming out pretty well tonight.
"When you put yourself into a new team you want to do well from the get-go and to have a couple of down days, it was nice to have a good one tonight.
"The plan now is to have a few more and help us get into the top four which is where we were aiming when we started this competition."
Central to that goal will be overturning last week's result against the Stars with a win on their home turf of Etihad Stadium in the return derby on Saturday night.
With both teams sitting on four competition points, the crosstown showdown takes on serious significance in the context of the tournament – a loss for either side could well spell the end of their campaign.
Doherty said he and his teammates were simply staggered by the turnout of 80,883 supporters at the MCG last weekend and were hopeful of another huge turnout on Saturday.
The MCG played host to the biggest-ever BBL crowd on Saturday night // Getty
"Even today we were still scratching our heads about it," he said.
"It's ridiculous really how big it's gotten – to have that many people at a domestic game is something that I don't reckon anyone thought would've happened at the start of this competition.
"When 'Wrighty' (Stars centurion Luke Wright) was going off, it was pretty awesome – obviously not great to be on the other end of it, but to have that sort of support and be a part of it was pretty special.
"The derbies are always big games – there were 80,000 there the other day and I think we'll go close to capacity at Etihad this Saturday night. It was a cracking game the other day and there's no reason the fans shouldn't come along and watch this next one.
"They're big, high-pressure games and I'm really looking forward to it."
WATCH: Wright has the MCG rocking
Doherty began BBL|05 brightly enough with 2-28 against the Heat but was clearly buoyed by his return to wicket-taking form against his former teammates.
The 33-year-old played the most recent of his 60 ODIs during last year's World Cup, and while he says he would love to return to the green-and-gold, he gave an honest appraisal of his current situation.
"(Playing for Australia again) is a fair way off just at the minute – it's not something I'm concentrating on," he said.
"I've missed out on the last couple of squads and I probably haven't been in the greatest of form in domestic cricket.
"It was nice to get some wickets tonight, but it's probably more about doing that every time I bowl, rather than just every now and again, which it seems to be at the moment.
"But the dream's still alive, I'd love to be back in those colours one day, but right now it's probably not on my priority list."
After four seasons of wearing the purple of the 'Cane train, Doherty said it was an unusual feeling returning to his former stomping ground in Renegades red.
"It was really strange," he said. "I guess with the letdown of losing the derby at the MCG the other day – the boys took that pretty tough because it was such a big crowd and we were in the game for so long – it was really only this morning that I started thinking about it, which was probably a good thing because I would've been pretty nervous otherwise.
"It was nice to come back, I was nervous to play against all those guys, but in familiar surroundings it made it a lot easier.
"I caught up with 'Bails' (George Bailey) in the morning so it was almost business as usual in that way. Some of those guys are my best mates and at the end of the day it's just a game of cricket, both teams are doing their best and luckily enough it went our way tonight."
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