Melbourne Renegades 3 for 155 (Finch 63*) beat Brisbane Heat 7 for 154 (Renshaw 65, Sutherland 3-30) by 7 wickets
The Heat needed to win to play in the finals but suffered another top-order collapse and failed to take their chances in the field to let the season literally slip through their fingers and hand the fifth and final playoff berth to the Sydney Thunder.
Finch and Nabi came together needing 87 from 63 balls on a pitch that was slowing as the afternoon progressed. The captain produced a brilliant knock making an unbeaten 63 from 49 balls to win it with four balls to spare, but he received a huge reprieve with 20 runs needed from 14 balls when he was dropped by Jack Prestwidge at deep midwicket. Nabi was equally outstanding making 38 not out from 28 balls with three fours and a six showing a calm hand under pressure.
Earlier, Will Sutherland took 3 for 30 as the Heat once again stumbled with the bat making an underwhelming 7 for 154 on a good surface. They slumped to 3 for 46 in the powerplay with some reckless strokeplay. A classy 65 from Matt Renshaw staved off another collapse and gave them something to bowl at but it wasn’t enough.
Heat melt early again
It was a familiar story for the Heat. They were 1 for 35 after just 21 balls with Ben Cutting flying and they suffered another top-order collapse to lose 3 for 30 in five overs. Cutting was 27 off 10 balls having hit Sutherland for two sixes and a four at the start of the fourth over. One of the sixes landed in the third tier over backward square and the ball never returned. But Cutting wasn’t satisfied and fell lbw trying to go again to a full straight ball. Then AB de Villiers made a rare execution error in the following over from Samit Patel. He was bowled off the back leg having missed a rank delivery that should have been deposited into the seats at midwicket. Finch identified that spin was the best option to Chris Lynn who went nine balls without a boundary, including three dots before he was bowled attempting to cut a length ball that hit middle and off stump from Mohammad Nabi.
Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne were forced to rebuild and did an excellent job to avoid any further damage as had happened the last time these sides met. Renshaw was 22 of 26 before he struck his first six off Cameron Boyce over deep midwicket. Labuschagne was busy feeding him the strike, facing just two dots in his first 18 balls. He fell trying to clear the rope in the 18th over but allowed Renshaw to reach 50 in 41 balls and club a six and a four in the final over to tick the total above 150, which looked unlikely when Lynn fell.
The Renegades have tried a host of different top-three combinations in the tournament due to form, absence, and injury. Finch and Tom Cooper opened as they did against the Sydney Sixers and Cooper got another rapid start making 23 off 10 before holing out in the second over. The Renegades sent out Dan Christian at No. 3, a role he had only filled seven times in 315 T20 matches, and just once since 2013. Christian also has a much better strike-rate against pace than spin and it allowed Lynn to utilize Mujeeb Ur Rahman twice in the powerplay. He faced five dots in Mujeeb’s first over before getting off the mark with a single and then holed out at cover off the first ball of Mujeeb’s next over. Beau Webster came in at No. 4 and seven of his nine dismissals in the BBL had also come against spin. The Renegades went four overs without scoring a boundary, with Mujeeb and legspinner Mitch Swepson bowling three of them, to be 2 for 60 after nine overs still needing 95 from 66 balls.
The Renegades had a mantra in their title-winning season, the team that panics last wins. Webster panicked in the 10th over and was bowled heaving across the line. But Nabi and Finch didn’t panic again. Nabi played a gem to take the pressure off his skipper. He rotated the strike early against Mujeeb and didn’t panic when facing three dots against Swepson. He waited for the last ball of the over and got one in the slot to launch over long-on. They reduced the equation to 29 off 18 balls without many risks and forced Lynn to gamble. After a long conference with three senior players, Lynn gave the ball to Labuschagne. It could have gone one of two ways. Finch cleared the rope once but was fortunate to survive next ball when a miscue slipped through Prestwidge’s fingers at deep midwicket next ball. Prestwidge compounded the mistake in the following over with another misfield on the rope to turn a single into a boundary and help Finch bring up his 50. The Renegades only need 10 from eight balls and Finch delivered one massive blow at the start of the last over to end the Heat’s season.