Bravo and White star against lacklustre Hurricanes

Hobart Hurricanes vs Melbourne Renegades
Hobart Hurricanes 164-8 (Short 34, McDermott 34, Doolan 26, Bailey 25, Bravo 28-5) lost to Melbourne Renegades 165-3 (White 79*, Harris 50, Archer 17-2) by 7 wickets at Blundstone Arena

In the corresponding fixture last season, the Melbourne Renegades managed to throw away a near-certain victory, failing to defend a mammoth 222. This time around, they were in cruise control, never looking like losing from the moment the Hobart Hurricanes posted a below-par 164, attaining the target with 9 balls to spare and cruising home on the back of Cameron White’s composed 79 and Dwayne Bravo’s brilliant five-wicket haul. For the Hurricanes, it was a day of missed opportunities, as the Renegades were just a cut above.

It was hard to tell which aspect of the Hurricanes’ play was more disappointing. Their innings was one of opportunities squandered, a fast start giving way to a mediocre finish. D’Arcy Short and Alex Doolan came out of the blocks quickly, hitting Tom Cooper with an impunity that few managed last season and playing some lovely shots. Short had soon found his timing, and the ball was flying off the middle of the bat. A short one from Jack Wildermuth was helped over fine-leg, and he was smashed through the covers when he pitched up. Another excellent cover drive, this time off a Kane Richardson full toss, allowed the Hurricanes to keep building. Then Aaron Finch threw Bravo the ball.

Bravo was the undisputed star of the show. He entered the attack with the Hurricanes cruising on 0/48 from 5, and immediately slowed the scoring rate with his probing slower balls. He gained his first wicket when Doolan slashed at a wide one, providing an easy catch for Brad Hogg. When he returned, in the 14th over, Ben McDermott’s innings came to an end, as the build up of pressure proved too much for a player who had smashed Hogg for three consecutive boundaries just overs before. Bravo’s use of slower balls befitted his vast experience on the T20 stage, and when the Hurricanes needed runs desperately, they just couldn’t get him away. Instead, he got them out, removing Jofra Archer, Cameron Boyce and Matthew Wade in the last over.

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Job well done: Dwayne Bravo celebrates after collecting his fifth wicket.

The rest of the bowlers backed him up well. Hogg, the 46-year-old who came out of retirement when the Big Bash began and had too much fun to stop, removed Short, breaking through his defences and leaving him so plumb that Hogg was celebrating with his trademark boyish enthusiasm before the finger was raised. That was as good as it got for Hogg, but some accurate bowling from Wildermuth and Mohammad Nabi stalled the momentum of McDermott and George Bailey, with Nabi leaving the Hurricanes skipper stranded halfway up the pitch as Tim Ludeman completed an easy stumping. Dan Christian and Wade couldn’t pick up the run rate either, and the Hurricanes were limited to a below par score they never really looked like defending.

Whereas the batting was a disappointment given the strong start, the bowling was just bad. Things started well enough, with Renegades captain Finch falling to Clive Rose with the second ball of the innings, Rose tossing the ball up and taking a top edge which soared into the Hobart sky. Matthew Wade took the catch, setting himself in the middle of the pitch, and the Hurricanes appeared to have a chance. Then White and Marcus Harris ran away with it against some questionable bowling. Tymal Mills, billed as one of the quickest bowlers in the world despite a congenital back condition, managed to land the nine balls of his first over all over the pitch, going for 13 runs. As White steadied the ship with brutal efficiency, Harris provided a touch of class, his crisp cover drive off Rose a particularly neat shot.

White and Harris continued to march along purposefully against the inconsistent Hurricanes attack. Mills was erratic, and while he gradually improved he was not at his best. Aaron Summers, drafted in for his raw pace, bowled like Mitchell Johnson or Shaun Tait on a bad day, routinely hitting speeds around 150 kph but failing to show any consistency or control. Rose was expensive after his perfect start, with White using his feet well to hit him around. Boyce was barely given a chance, making it unclear why they had bothered to pick him in the first place. Short was slapped, and Christian couldn’t find a good area either. The Hurricanes showed few positive signs as White and Harris clinically batted them out of the game.

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Big wicket: Jofra Archer celebrates after picking up the wicket of Tom Cooper.

Archer appeared the only Hurricanes bowler capable of having an impact, and raised faint hopes with a double wicket maiden which saw Harris depart for 50. Archer bowled with poise and control, with a graceful and economical action which makes it look like he is only giving 50%. He was the Hurricanes’ best by a long way, but could not save his side as White and Brad Hodge knocked off the last 48 runs without breaking a sweat. White picked up a deserved not out following a composed and powerful innings and Hodge showed some great form in hitting his second delivery for six and finding the middle with ease. As the game meandered to its eventual conclusion, it was hard to escape the thought that this could be a very long season for the Hurricanes.

Top 5
1. Dwayne Bravo (Melbourne Renegades)
Bravo used his slower balls to devastating effect, compensating for his drop in pace by out-thinking the batsmen and building pressure every time he entered the attack. He took the big wickets of Doolan and McDermott, and concluded the innings with a well-delivered last over that closed out a top-quality spell.
2. Cameron White (Melbourne Renegades)
White was in brilliant form, displaying exemplary patience and excellent power. Combined beautifully with Harris in a partnership of 113, and batted through to the end to keep his wicket intact. His composure under pressure bodes well for the season ahead.
3. Marcus Harris (Melbourne Renegades)
Harris looked more fluent than White, and was in top form as he compiled a very nice 50. His driving was particularly strong, and he looks to be in excellent form. If Finch can get going their opening partnerships could be very damaging.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer bowls with remarkable ease, and deservedly picked up a pair of wickets. Had perfect control over his bowling and was able to extract plenty of bounce from the pitch with his upright bowling action. If he keeps this up, both England and the West Indies will be looking ruefully at his progress.
5. D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
The less that is said about Short’s bowling the better, but he found plenty of form with the bat and looked set for a big score before his untimely dismissal. Hit some very powerful shots on both sides of the wicket, and had the ball flying off the bat.

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