Hobart Hurricanes 6 for 183 (Wade 58, Gurney 2-40) beat Melbourne Renegades 8 for 167 (Cooper 44, Archer 2-19) by 16 runs
A well-rounded Hobart Hurricanes attack stymied Melbourne Renegades' chase at the batting-friendly Blundstone Arena to secure a home semi-final.
Sent in to bat, the Hurricanes looked set to post the first total of 200 this season after openers Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short smashed 87 runs before they both fell in the ninth over. The home side wobbled mid-innings but a late assault propelled them to a sizeable 6 for 183.
In their chase, the Renegades were on track until wristspinners Short and debutant Qais Ahmad flipped the match with two wickets apiece. Quick Jofra Archer bowled well at the death as Hurricanes tuned up nicely for the finals with their eighth straight win in Hobart.
The victory ensures the Hurricanes will finish on top of the ladder ahead of their final match against Sydney Thunder, while third-placed Renegades' hopes for a home final are in tatters.
The Wade and Short Show
Finch backed spearheads Kane Richardson and Chris Tremain from the get-go in the hope of his aces conjuring early swing. Instead, the veteran seamers copped a thrashing by Hurricanes' irresistible opening duo during a pyrotechnics show.
Wade's intentions were made clear on the second ball of the innings when he made room and smashed a short ball from Richardson to the boundary. Two balls later, he outdid himself with a six over mid-wicket in perhaps a pointed message to the national selectors after missing out on Australia's limited-overs tour of India.
Wade was soon joined in the party by Short, who gloriously stroked a cover drive to the boundary on the first ball he faced. The normally miserly Renegades seamers were rocked by the whirlwind batting and Finch's bowling changes were to no avail. Wade smashed a loopy Cameron Boyce delivery into the crowd in the eighth over to memorably bring up his half-century off just 27 balls.
His belligerent batting somehow made Short look relatively sedate as the runs flowed at more than 10 an over until Wade holed out off Richardson in the ninth over. Short, who was recalled by national selectors as cover for Shaun Marsh, fell rashly two balls later to a full toss as the contest evened up mid-innings.
Hurricanes unleash at the death
Hurricanes' slump continued when Caleb Jewell fell to Mohammad Nabi, who slowed down the scoring with his accurate offspin. George Bailey and Ben McDermott were left to stabilise the innings, but were tied down and mainly scored through hard-run singles and twos.
The frustration led to Bailey throwing his wicket away in the 15th over as Renegades' seamers fought back into the contest through clever slower deliveries. Needing a tonic, Simon Milenko went for broke in the 17th over with audacious hitting to smash Richardson for 20 runs and reignite the Hurricanes.
The BBL's leading wicket-taker, however, gained revenge shortly after, when he caught his tormentor Milenko in the deep. Richardson, who endured his worst ever BBL bowling figures with 2-55 from 4 overs, then turned to the crowd and cheekily laughed.
McDermott tried to improvise, but suffered a nasty blow when his miscued paddled scoop hit him on the jaw. After receiving medical attention, he clubbed the next ball for six to cap a Hurricanes comeback yielding 57 runs off the last five overs.
Meredith struggles, Qais shines
Hurricanes speedster Riley Meredith cranked up the pace at 150kmh, but disaster struck when he bowled three no-balls and a leg-side wide that rolled away to the fine leg boundary in a nightmare first over costing 23 runs. Finch further applied the blowtorch with consecutive boundaries off left-arm spinner Clive Rose in the third over to ensure Renegades got off to a flying start.
Marcus Harris couldn't get going in his return from Test cricket and fell to a sharp catch from Short at backward point in the fourth over. Meredith came back on but his confidence was dented as Renegades posted 70 runs in their best Powerplay of the tournament.
Hurricanes needed a boost and new import Ahmad delivered with his fifth ball, claiming the prized wicket of Finch, whose frustrating summer continued. The Renegades gifted wickets with Sam Harper miscuing a half-tracker off Short, who then picked up Nabi in a wicket-maiden to put Hurricanes in the box seat.
Renegades fall short
Tom Cooper and Dan Christian were forced to play conservatively and knocked the ball around in a bid to get Renegades back into the contest. They could do little to counter Short's accurate bowling but had better luck when Meredith continued to spray it around.
Meredith was further dejected when Qais dropped a sitter in the deep to reprieve Cooper, but he had some belated cheer with the scalp of Christian next ball.
Renegades never seriously threatened despite some late fireworks from Mackenzie Harvey.