Renegades prevail in last-ball thriller to stay in contention

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The final over from Rimmington yielded two run-outs as Brisbane Heat failed to hold their nerve

A record Gabba crowd witnessed a thriller on Friday (January 20) where Melbourne Renegades kept fighting back in order to stay in contention for a spot in the semifinal of the Big Bash League. The match had a dramatic finish to it with the last wicket pair failing to take advantage of an erratic final over bowled by Nathan Rimmington.
Defending 18, Rimmington bowled four wides and conceded two sixes but his side still scraped through by one-run after Mitchell Swepson got run out off the final ball. Needing three runs to win off the last delivery, Rimmington bowled another wide but the batsmen attempted a non-existent single instead of trying to score the remaining two runs off the extra delivery. The decision cost them big time with Swepson falling well short of the crease, as wicket-keeper Andrew Harriott kept his cool and tossed the ball back for a simple run-out.
The win takes the Renegades to the fourth spot with eight points but will need the two results going their way on Saturday in order to seal their passage. If Hobart Hurricanes beat Perth Scorchers or if Sydney Sixers manage to defeat Melbourne Stars, then the Renegades’ campaign would come to an end. Heat, though, stay on top currently despite the loss but would need one among the Stars or the Scorchers to lose in order to get a home semifinal.
Earlier in the evening, the returning captain Brendon McCullum inserted the Renegades in after winning the toss only to be put on the backfoot straightaway. Pushing for a win and also to improve their net run rate, opposition skipper Aaron Finch went on a rampage right from the start. He found able support from his opening partner Marcus Harris. Finch hit one over wide of mid-off into the second tier right in the very first over to signal his intentions.
It was followed by three boundaries in the second over as the Renegades then brought up fifty off just four overs. They finished the powerplay with 75 runs on the board and were no in mood to slow down. Finch received a massive reprieve when Joe Burns dropped him at long on and went on to tip the ball over the fence. Finch hit the next ball for a maximum as well to make it three sixes in a row to bring up a 20-ball fifty. Things were not looking good for the hosts as the century stand was brought up in 7.5 overs but Ben Cutting came to the rescue by sending Harris back for 48.
The scoring rate dropped in the following five overs as Cameron White found it difficult to find the boundaries. Finch then found the fielder at deep midwicket to fall for 71 to cause some concern in the Renegades camp. With Tom Cooper and Thisara Perera also failing to make an impact, the onus was once again on Callum Ferguson to provide his side some impetus. He responded to the challenge by clobbering a couple of sixes and a four in the final over to take the total to 199.
No total is ever safe against someone like McCullum and the New Zealand basher raced to 29 off just 9 balls inside the first two overs to cheer up the home crowd. Sam Heazlett, who came in very early after Jimmy Peirson’s wicket, went on a rampage as well and went toe to toe with McCullum. While the Renegades made 75 in the first six overs, Heat went on to score 84 in just five. Perera came into the attack in the sixth over and delivered immediately by bowling a slower delivery that was mistimed by Heazlett to the deep backward square leg fielder.
At the other end though, McCullum had reached his fifty off just 18 deliveries. The Heat’s handling of the two spinners, Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine, was going to have a huge say in the outcome of the match and as predicted, the experienced duo did slow things down. McCullum, who received some treatment in the 11th over, immediately fell in the following over to another slower ball from Perera. The wicket came in at the right time for Renegades as Hogg then removed Alex Ross nine balls later to put the brakes on the scoring rate.
With 52 needed off 27 balls, Cutting brought his side back into the contest with two massive sixes off Perera but the momentum again shifted after Rimmington nabbed him in the 18th over. Two more wickets in the penultimate over looked like sealing the end for Heat before Burns looked to atone for his dropped catch. The right-hander smashed two sixes off Rimmington in the final over to bring the equation down to 5 off 4 but perished off the next ball while going for the glory shot. Rimmington almost blew it by bowling two more wides but the indecisiveness from the tail cost the Heat in the end.
Brief scores: Melbourne Renegades 199/5 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 71, Marcus Harris 48; Mark Steketee 2-37) beat Brisbane Heat 198 in 19.5 overs (Brendon McCullum 64, Ben Cutting 35; Thisara Perera 2-27) by 1 run.

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