Melbourne Renegades 7 for 140 (Boyce 51*, Fawad 2-22) beat Sydney Thunder 113 (Holt 37, Richardson 3-27, Boyce 2-17) by 27 runs
The Renegades claimed their second victory over the Thunder in the space of eight days in Melbourne tonight, after a whirlwind fifty from Cameron Boyce proved the difference.
On a thundery Melbourne evening, Marvel Stadium closed its roof for the fixture, which saw both teams clamouring for a semi-final berth on 14 (Renegades) and 11 points (Thunder) respectively.
The Renegades won the flip and elected to bat, with both sides greeted by a disappointingly low, slow wicket. It consistently saw batsmen through their shots early, and no one bar Boyce was able to establish any momentum in their innings.
With the match reduced to an arm-wrestle of bowling discipline, it was the trio of Kane Richardson, Chris Tremain and Harry Gurney who won out, ably supported by Player of the Match Boyce, who coupled his undefeated 22 ball blitz with two wickets of his own.
Renegades aim for flier, come unstuck
Aaron Finch and Mackenzie Harvey formed an explosive opening duo, and they started in that vein. Harvey found the ropes twice from Daniel Sams' opening over, before Finch took full toll from Jono Cook's first-ball full toss. Harvey strove to continue the flying start, but holed out off Cook later in the over following a great catch diving forward at long-on from Chris Jordan.
Sam Harper followed, showing flashes of his talent via a crunching pull and numerous ramp shots, before over-aggression saw him swing wildly at a Jordan slower ball, resulting in scattered stumps and the need for consolidation.
At this point, the Thunder seemed to land on a formula, combining shorter-length deliveries with a high proportion of slower balls, indicating another slow wicket for both teams to contend with. Led by an almost unhittable Jordan, who also claimed Finch cheaply, the Renegades finished the Powerplay on 3 for 38. Time would tell whether this was par or not.
Fawad spins a web; Boyce crashes fifty
Shane Watson then introduced Fawad Ahmed from one end, and Chris Green from the other. Both were able to turn the screws, conceding less than a run a ball, before Fawad was rewarded with the wicket of Tom Cooper, caught and bowled from one that caught the leading edge after gripping in the wicket.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Nabi loomed as the danger for the home side, collecting a slog-swept six and a boundary over the man at forty-five to briefly threaten a counterattack. However, his partner Dan Christian fell to Sams, and then Cook had Beau Webster stumped by the debutant Baxter Holt, who removed the bails smartly after a sharp topspinner.
Just as the Renegades' innings was petering into mediocrity, in came Boyce, who confounded the entire trend of the innings to register a blistering 51 from 22 balls. He took a particular liking to Gurinder Sandhu and Jordan, smashing five sixes and four boundaries on his way to the equal-fastest fifty for the tournament, alongside Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner. It was a bolt from the blue, and gave the home side impetus heading into the second innings.
Thunder stutter, then stop
It was the Renegades who gained the early running in part two, with the tournament's leading wicket-taker Kane Richardson accounting for Watson in over one to set them on their way. From there, he and his partner Chris Tremain kept a lid on newly promoted opener Jason Sangha and Callum Ferguson, as the Thunder saw the required rate rise.
The pressure told, as Sangha slashed across the line at Richardson, a tough skier that Harvey hurtled back for from point and grasped. It meant Ferguson and new man Anton Devcich had to consolidate, as Richardson and Tremain retained straight, tight, disciplined lines to both, making scoring very difficult.
Just as the Thunder's second-wicket partnership started to build, the introduction of Boyce brought Devcich undone. He was caught at the long-on boundary by Christian, before Chris Green was bizarrely run out from his first delivery after his sliding bat caught in the turf as he returned for a second. It left the Thunder 4 for 45 in the ninth over, requiring just under a hundred runs from eleven overs.
A bright partnership between Ferguson and Holt developed, but as was the evening's trend, it was cut short before it properly began after Ferguson was caught on the cow-corner rope from Tremain's bowling. His debutant colleague was the Thunder's best batsman, carving an enterprising 37 from 28 balls, but the scoring rate consistently remained out of reach. Another bizarre run-out involving a collision between Cook and Sandhu capped a forgettable night for the Thunder, who now face an uphill battle to secure one of the remaining three finals spots.