Bowlers dominate as Scorchers limp home

Melbourne Renegades vs Perth Scorchers
Melbourne Renegades 130-9 (Cooper 34, Harris 32, Johnson 13-3, Tye 37-3) lost to Perth Scorchers 133-7 (Klinger 37, Willey 31, Hogg 16-2) by 3 wickets at Etihad Stadium

Andrew Tye stood at the top of his mark to bowl the last ball of his second over, having already conceded 15 runs thanks to a monstrous pull shot from Marcus Harris and a big hit over mid-wicket from Tom Cooper. The third wicket partnership had added 63, and both looked set for big scores. Cooper looked to take Tye on again, saw the ball slip through onto his stumps and sparked a collapse that ultimately sealed the Melbourne Renegades’ fate. They failed to defend their meagre total despite some excellent bowling, as the Perth Scorchers kept their perfect record intact with a masterful bowling performance.

Cooper and Harris had dragged the Renegades out of a Mitchell Johnson-induced hole. Johnson bowled with plenty of pace and was too good for Aaron Finch and Cameron White. The Renegades captain failed again, dismissed in the first over after fending at one and getting a fine edge, and White never looked settled before helping the ball around the corner into the waiting hands of Jhye Richardson. The Scorchers couldn’t make further inroads, with Cooper continuing his good form and Harris playing one of his typically classy knocks.

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Very high catch: Adam Voges completes the catch after Nabi’s remarkable skied ball nearly hits the Etihad Stadium roof.

When Harris was incorrectly adjudged leg before the over after Cooper departed, the Scorchers smelled blood, and did what they do best. Adam Voges reintroduced Johnson and was rewarded as his premier quick made a mockery of Brad Hodge’s defence, and Jack Wildermuth never looked comfortable before he fell trying to hit out against Richardson. Dwayne Bravo found some early momentum with boundaries off his second and third balls, but that had stalled by the time he fell, with David Willey nabbing a return catch. Tim Ludeman played an ill-advised ramp shot against Tye and was bowled, and Mohammad Nabi was caught after hitting the ball so high it nearly grazed the roof before coming down for Voges to take a remarkable catch. The Renegades had lost 7/53, and looked absolutely gone.

The Scorchers started their chase in cruise control, as calm knocks from Michael Klinger and Willey got them off to a perfect start. They were 0/49 after the PowerPlay, with Willey starting to find his power and Klinger showing unflappable temperament. Even when the Benjamin Button-esque Brad Hogg bowled masterfully to remove Willey and Ashton Agar, it only seemed to delay the inevitable. Klinger and Voges got the Scorchers back on track, and when Klinger departed a couple of overs later Hilton Cartwright smoothly filled the void. The Scorchers were still cruising towards an inevitable victory.

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Chaos: Kane Richardson (right) runs out a desperate Jhye Richardson in the closing overs of the match.

The Scorchers were nearing their target when Cartwright was dismissed, holing out to Cooper on the boundary. Suddenly, the Scorchers’ aura of calm seemed to shatter, and with just 18 runs needed they began to fall apart. Voges was run out in freakish circumstances, his bat caught in the Etihad Stadium turf as Ludeman ripped out the off stump. Then Josh Inglis, much like Ludeman in the first innings, played an addle-brained ramp shot and was bowled by Bravo. Jhye Richardson dived half the pitch in a vain attempt to make his ground, but Kane Richardson was just too quick in getting the ball onto the stumps. Suddenly, there was action every ball, and the game seemed to have descended into madness as there were run out chances every other ball.

Then, just like that, it was all over. Ashton Turner had come in with the wicket of Cartwright, and had been a spectator as Voges got unlucky, Inglis had his brain explosion and Richardson fell well short with his dramatic dive. Now, he was the last recognised batsman, and it was up to him to score the requisite 6 runs in 8 balls. He did it in two, with a six over the cover boundary sealing a nervy win with one over to spare. It was as if the Scorchers had blown out an engine and crawled over the finish line in a tailspin, but the Renegades could not pull off a remarkable comeback even with a brilliant bowling effort. They had dug themselves too deep a hole, and the Scorchers were too good to let them win.

Top 5
1. Mitchell Johnson (Perth Scorchers)
Johnson took 3/13 from his four over spell with a brilliant display of fast bowling. He removed Finch, White and Hodge with his intimidating pace and unerring accuracy, and showed why he is still one of the most feared bowlers in the league. He looks set for another big season.
2. Brad Hogg (Melbourne Renegades)
At 46 years of age, Hogg appeared to be losing some of his touch with some inconsistent early performances. There can be no doubt that the old magic is still there after a miserly and very dangerous bowling effort which gave the Renegades some hope of pulling off the comeback. He threatened with almost every ball he bowled, and looked as good as ever in bagging 2/16.
3. Mohammad Nabi (Melbourne Renegades)
Nabi showed that he is a very wily customer with an effective spell of accurate off spin bowling. He took the big wicket of Klinger and mixed things up well to keep the runs down and build plenty of pressure. He looked composed rather than spectacular with the bat, but hung around for longer than most in compiling 13.
4. Michael Klinger (Perth Scorchers)
Klinger looked set to finish the game off when his calm 37 ended with an untimely edge behind, but he gave the Scorchers the foundation they needed to survive their late collapse. He looked better the longer he spent at the crease, a fact which bodes well for the rest of the season.
5. David Willey (Perth Scorchers)
Willey’s role in the Scorchers’ attack seems a little unclear, but he bowled well anyway and picked up the wicket of Bravo as the Scorchers tightened the screws. He was very effective with bat in hand, opening the door for him to become a more permanent fixture at the top of the order.

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