- The Report by Sam Perry
Melbourne Renegades 6 for 107 (Harper 36, Nabi 35, Behrendorff 2-17) beat Perth Scorchers 103 all out (Klinger 28, Christian 3-22) by four wickets
A disciplined bowling effort followed by a middle-overs run surge helped Melbourne Renegades upset Perth Scorchers in a low-scoring affair at the Marvel Stadium.
After winning the flip and electing to bowl, the home side exploited the difficult wicket better than their opponents, who were bowled out for 103 thanks to Usman Shinwari, Daniel Christian and Kane Richardson’s bowling.
While Renegades’ chase began nervously – at one point slumping to 4 for 17 – both Sam Harper and Mohammad Nabi profited from uncharacteristically loose bowling from the visitors, who are otherwise known for their tight defensive prowess. They put Renegades within reach, before Christian and Will Sutherland saw them home.
Swing King Shinwari
On his BBL debut, the Pakistan international shone with the new ball, setting up Renegades’ bowling with four dominant overs that will be remembered throughout the competition. Shinwari’s first twelve deliveries kept the Scorchers largely quiet and allowed his team-mates to benefit from the pressure.
He exploited the wicket’s underlying moisture through consistent length bowling, and he made the most of his whippy action that effects an acute swing away from the right-hander. He claimed 2 for 17 from his four overs, and looked a threat whenever he had the ball in hand.
Scorchers splutter on tricky wicket
The fifth ball of the match told a key story. Michael Klinger, the only Scorchers batsman who made a significant contribution, came forward to a ball that zipped away from his bat. The camera quickly caught the Scorchers stalwart cocking his head, offering a wry grimace in response to a wicket that offered minimal pace and maximum seam, in T20 terms.
From there, it was a procession of dot ball aggregation, followed by big shots that paid a big price. The wicket appeared very tacky, and Klinger aside, nobody seemed willing to make runs. Cameron Boyce was particularly difficult to get away, bowling with great control and giving away just 13 runs in his allotted four.
Scorchers’ early surge
A characteristically potent start saw Scorchers surge immediately back into the contest. First, Tim Ludeman feathered a soft glide through to Whiteman from Behrendorff’s bowling, before Wildermuth chopped on from Coulter-Nile in the second over. Even at 2 for 7, it looked salvageable enough for the hosts, before disaster struck again. Both bowlers were making the ball talk, but it was the former producing the most serious hoop. Behrendorff enticed Cameron White into an expansive cover drive, before the ball zeroed back very late to pin him in front.
Coulter-Nile responded with a wicket of his own the following over. Tom Cooper, who to that point had looked relatively assured at the crease, first hooked Coulter-Nile for six, momentarily allowing Renegades fans to breathe. It was short-lived, however, as the stand-in skipper then spooned an easy catch to point. That made it 4 for 17, and 103 was starting to look uncomfortably distant for the home side.
Harper and Nabi take the game away
After nearly 24 consecutive overs of disciplined, successful length bowling from both sides, Scorchers were the first to deviate from the plan. After new batsmen Sam Harper and Mohammad Nabi dealt blows to Andrew Tye’s opening over, they fully exploited the loose offerings of both David Willey and Usman Qadir. It was Willey who first suffered, presenting rare width to Nabi, who cut via third man for four. Two balls later the Afghanistan all-rounder was back smashing him over deep cover for six.
It represented a turning of the tide, and it was amplified after Usman Qadir’s first over, which was one to forget. He dished up a number of drag-downs which were dispatched with ease, first conceding three, then four, then six, among assorted singles. After such a strong start, it meant Scorchers had leaked 38 runs in the next three overs, undoing their advantage.
From there, Renegades cruised, eventually reaching the total in the 16th over with 28 balls to spare. Harper and Nabi’s partnership broke the arm-wrestle, before Christian and Sutherland guided the Renegades to a win.