No contest as Renegades breeze past Heat

Melbourne Renegades vs Brisbane Heat
Brisbane Heat 132-8 (Ross 48, Wildermuth 16-3, Hogg 25-2, Bravo 27-2) lost to Melbourne Renegades 137-3 (Cooper 52*, White 51, Shadab 17-2) by 7 wickets at Etihad Stadium

Brendon McCullum is 36, and has entered the twilight of his career. He is the Brisbane Heat’s oldest player, but, if the events of their clash with the Melbourne Renegades are anything to go by, he is still the biggest fish in the Heat’s pond. 8 balls into the match, Tom Cooper, with his flat, non-turning off-breaks, made the breakthrough, and the Heat never recovered. McCullum attacked Cooper with his usual aggression, but the ball slipped through his sweep shot and knocked into his stumps. Cooper raised his arms, as much a gesture of surprise as triumph, and the Renegades marched to a comfortable and satisfying win in front of their home fans.

Jack Wildermuth’s introduction in the fourth over completely killed off the Heat’s innings. Sam Heazlett attempted to follow up a lofted four with another big shot, and the resultant chance hung in the air long enough for Aaron Finch to send him on his way. The run rate ground to a halt, and Jimmy Peirson’s poor decision to go for a slog resulted in the off stump being uprooted as the Heat fell to 3/29 at the conclusion of the PowerPlay. Alex Ross looked in nice form as the Heat looked to mount their recovery, and Marnus Labuschagne had luck on his side, but neither could push the pace enough to threaten the Renegades. When Wildermuth returned to light up Labuschagne’s stumps with a very nice delivery, and the game was all but over.

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Swing-and-a-miss: Alex Ross loses his off stump at the hands of Dwayne Bravo.

Ross went on to make 48 before being bowled by Dwayne Bravo, and Ben Cutting hit some lusty blows before holing out to a Brad Hogg full toss. Hogg then removed Shadab Khan two balls later with an excellent wrong-un, and the Heat limped over the finish line to reach 132 with a bottom-edged four from the last ball. It was never going to be enough. Shadab gave his side a glimmer of hope with an excellent spell of PowerPlay bowling which saw Finch edge one through to Peirson and Marcus Harris, so fluent in the Renegades’ opener against the Hurricanes, clean bowled. His wicket brought Cooper to the wicket to join Cameron White.

White had been dominant in the first game of the season, and showed no sign of letting up here. He was such a soothing presence at this crease it felt as if he could bat days without being dismissed, and he was never overawed even as the Heat built some pressure with their tight bowling. He started to find form with a pair of crisp flicks against the bowling of Mark Steketee, and hit a nice four when Brendan Doggett bowled him a short, slow delivery on a free hit. Later in the over he hit a beautiful square drive, and looked like he would get the runs on his own. He slowed, and for the next few overs he only found the boundary sparingly, hitting a couple of big sixes against the otherwise economical Mitchell Swepson but mainly dealing in singles. He was in complete control as the Renegades marched clinically towards their target.

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Men in form: Cameron White (left) and Tom Cooper meet in the middle of the pitch during their 89-run stand.

Cooper’s innings was completely different but just as important. Unlike White, who came out looking as if he was starting on 100, Cooper scratched around and looked out of form. He crawled to two off ten balls, and was barely getting the ball off the square. He found some timing as the innings went on, but his progress was still painfully slow. It was a well-played ramp shot which gave his innings the boost it needed, the ball running away to the fine leg boundary to give him his first four. It was the twelfth over. From that point, Cooper began to find the middle with almost every shot. He smacked Doggett for six over mid-wicket, and took three runs with a lofted drive after McCullum attempted to flick the ball back and missed it completely. He used all of his power and all of his touch as he began to accelerate, hitting some beautiful drives when Cutting entered the attack to all but seal the deal.

White departed at the end of Cutting’s seventeenth over, but by that point the pursuit of 133 had become a formality. Brad Hodge hit Steketee for six with his third ball, and Cooper closed it out with a pull shot over the fence two balls later, bringing up a well-deserved fifty and closing out a comprehensive victory for a Renegades side who are on the top of their game. The Heat, minus Chris Lynn and Joe Burns, looked fragile, and need to work to ensure that this does not undermine their season.

Top 5
1. Tom Cooper (Melbourne Renegades)
Cooper was nowhere near his best at the start of his innings, but he battled through it admirably and finished with a very nice fifty to guide his team home. By the end he was hitting everything out of the middle in an innings which bodes well for the season ahead. He did well to claim the big wicket of McCullum with his darts.
2. Jack Wildermuth (Melbourne Renegades)
Wildermuth was at his best against his old team, bowling with pace and control to put the Heat under pressure and run through the top order. He showed plenty of skill and deserved to come out of it with three big wickets in a strong bowling performance.
3. Cameron White (Melbourne Renegades)
White is in brilliant form at the moment and it showed once again, as he settled any nerves the Renegades might have had with his reassuring presence at the crease. He marshalled his side through the chase with excellent technique and even better temperament, and would have been disappointed to depart so close to the target.
4. Alex Ross (Brisbane Heat)
Ross was the sole reason that the Heat lodged anything resembling a defendable target. He came in with the innings in turmoil, and he didn’t panic while playing a mature innings with plenty of self-control. He showed that he can be the perfect counterpoint to the aggression of his teammates, but needs some support to play this role.
5. Shadab Khan (Brisbane Heat)
The best of the Heat’s bowlers, he kept the runs down with his flat, darting leg-spinners and manage to claim the scalps of both openers. His spell gave the Heat something of a chance, but they couldn’t capitalise. If he can bowl like that regularly he will be very difficult to get away.

Sydney: The Sydney Sixers collapsed at the hands of a top-class bowling effort from the Perth Scorchers, who were shaky throughout the chase but came out on top thanks to a 27-ball 52 from Ashton Turner.

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