The six-wicket defeat meant Renegades tumbled to the bottom of the BBL table
Melbourne Stars 4 for 123 (Maxwell 68*, Burns 17 Richardson 1-12 ) beat Melbourne Renegades 7 for 122 (Finch 45, Ahmad 2-15, Zampa 2-18, Haris 2-28) by 6 wickets
A rejuvenated Stars (18 points) moved to fifth on the ladder, while inflicting a blow to Renegades (15 points) who tumbled to the bottom. Playing their third match in four days, Stars showed no ill-effects and claimed their 15th win in 22 games in the Melbourne derby after their Covid-19-hit team lost to Renegades by five wickets on January 3.
Rauf finishes BBL stint on a high
A pumped-up Rauf wanted to go out in style and did so with the key wickets of Shaun Marsh and skipper Nic Maddinson in his first over to leave Renegades in tatters at 2 for 9.
After hitting speeds of 150kmh/93mph, Rauf briefly left the field mid-innings with an apparent niggle in his leg. It didn’t curtail his speed when he returned in the backend marked by a brutal short ball that whacked a rattled Jake Prestwidge on the gloves.
Having taken nine wickets from five matches, Rauf’s pace prowess and innate exuberance will be missed but Stars are fortunately blessed with a strong attack.
Their brilliant spin duo Adam Zampa and Qais Ahmad bowled superbly with four wickets and were particularly destructive in the power surge to halt Renegades’ attempts at a fightback. The Afghanistan legspinner’s double strike in the 14th over gave Stars a stranglehold they wouldn’t relinquish.
Renegades’ rejigged batting order fails
In a crux fixture, Renegades rejigged their batting order with Marsh and Maddinson shuffling up one position with the big move being opener Aaron Finch sliding down to No.5 after just two half-centuries from seven innings this season.
It didn’t work with Renegades slumping to 3 for 25 leaving Finch to rescue the innings along with youngster Jake Fraser-McGurk. Apart from arguably taking the catch of the tournament – a one-handed blinder on the boundary against Adelaide Strikers – Fraser-McGurk has had a disappointing season with just two scores in double digits from seven innings heading into this game.
He once again lacked fluency and found boundaries hard to find against Stars bowlers executing their lengths. In a desperate bid to up the ante during the power surge, Fraser-McGurk unsuccessfully charged Ahmad to end his sluggish 32 off 39 balls.
It was left to Finch who was generally left frustrated in his sedate 44-ball 45 as Renegades fell well short of a competitive total.
Maxwell finds form at the top
Maxwell decided he needed a spark after being unable to reach double figures in his previous four innings. Moving up from No.4, Maxwell opened for just the third time in his BBL career and it did the trick.
Stars were shaky at 2 for 15 in the second over but that didn’t deter Maxwell from unleashing his natural aggression as he smashed spinner Zahir Khan for a straight six to get off the mark.
After turbo-charged batting in the powerplay, Maxwell – batting without a helmet or cap against the spinners – and Joe Burns smartly knocked the ball around for easy runs.
Maxwell impressively held the innings together to make a case to stay in the opener’s role moving forward. With their frontline team finally coming together – set to be further strengthened by the imminent return of Marcus Stoinis – and Maxwell rediscovering form, Stars look ominous as they make an unlikely push for a first BBL title.
Renegades’ season is at the crossroads
Defending such a low total, Renegades needed early wickets and they did exactly that with Joe Clarke and Beau Webster falling within the opening two overs. Much depended on Zahir and legspinner Cameron Boyce, who made a triumphant return against Sydney Sixers after two years on the BBL sidelines, but they were thwarted by a determined Maxwell.
Without scoreboard pressure, Renegades were always on the back foot and it didn’t take long for the contest to run out of steam. Having fallen off the pace of the top five, Renegades – who recently lost the services of quick James Pattinson and allrounder Mohammad Nabi – are heading towards a third straight wooden spoon.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth