The second Melbourne Big Bash League derby followed a similar script to the first held last weekend, an Englishman leading the way as bowlers struggled to defend a total, to buttress the Stars' finals hopes and put the Renegades on the brink of elimination.
Instead of Luke Wright dominating for the Stars, the lead role was assumed by Kevin Pietersen, whose 67 from 43 deliveries took them to the target of 156 with eight wickets and two overs to spare at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. He and Peter Handscomb (39 off 30) were rarely troubled in their unbeaten 94-run stand for the third wicket.
Stars cruise to BBL win in derby
Chris Gayle was back in the spotlight, a bowler dismissed a batsman with his nose and there was a lengthy smoke delay in the Big Bash League derby.
Losing their first two matches of the season is an increasingly distant memory for the Stars, who have now won four in a row. The Renegades' slim final hopes rest with hefty wins in their final two matches, and results going their way.
While all the focus in the preceding days had been on Chris Gayle, who arrived to a conspicuously loud cheers from the record crowd of 43,176, it was his West Indies teammate Dwayne Bravo that the Renegades were most indebted to. His unbeaten 59 from 37 deliveries dragged them to 6-155.
The Renegades' first blow came when they lost the toss. Stars captain David Hussey unsurprisingly sent the Renegades in, given their conspicuous struggles in defending totals.
New opener Tom Cooper lasted only two deliveries in becoming the first of two key Renegades batsmen to depart to a fine diving catch to wicketkeeper Handscomb, his after attempting to guide Ben Hilfenhaus through slips. The next to do so was Cameron White, during what was a defining over from little-used medium-pacer Marcus Stoinis.
White and Chris Gayle had managed a half-century partnership to steady the innings after the early departure of Cooper that was characterised by their reliance on big hitting rather than gap-finding. Gayle was similar. While he had little of the strike in the powerplay, he was nevertheless labouring at five from 12 deliveries after the powerplay, in which the Renegades scored only 33.
The introduction of Adam Zampa's leg-spin briefly shocked him back into life — he sent him over the boundary twice in his first four deliveries — but it was his last significant contribution.
Hussey's decision to introduce Stoinis last weekend brought the key wicket of Aaron Finch. Replicating that strategy in the second derby was even more profitable. In consecutive deliveries, he had Gayle holing out to long-on and White caught behind by Handscomb, trying and failing to bat past Handscomb.
The two fresh batsmen, Bravo and Peter Nevill, understandably prioritised survival in taking the Renegades to 3-75 after 12 overs. Their partnership was broken in bizarre circumstances. Bravo blasted Zampa straight only for the ball to ricochet on the full off the bat of non-striker Nevill into the face of the bowler in his follow-through, at which point Nevill immediately attended to his opponent. When the replay showed what had happened, it also showed what followed: the ball had in turn ricocheted off Zampa's face onto the stumps, with Nevill stranded.
After then losing debutant Aaron Ayre for a golden duck to Zampa, Bravo and replacement Tom Beaton (29 off 18) combined gap-finding with calculated hitting in making 66 from just 35 balls, until the partnership was ended in the 19th over by Stoinis (2-11).
The Stars' chase was delayed about 10 minutes by lingering smoke from the innings-break pyrotechnics. White would have wished the break was even longer, given Xavier Doherty, Chris Tremain and Cameron Gannon leaked 32 runs in the first three overs.
Bravo made an impact with the ball too, bowling Stoinis with a slower-ball yorker that completely deceived him. That still left their foe from last weekend, Luke Wright, who had moved to 31 as the Stars reached 1-51 in their powerplay.
Their last bowler picked, Cameron Stevenson, delivered the scalp of Wright in the eighth over. It did little to curb the Stars' prospect as Handscomb took over — and with more elegance than the bludgeoning but effective Wright.
The Renegades' night was summed up two deliveries to start the 14th over. From the first Pietersen, on 31, survived a confident caught-behind appeal from Bravo. From the second he skied a ball to deep cover that neither White nor substitute Ben McDermott got a hand on, due to a horrible mix-up.
From there, the result was inevitable. Pietersen at least gave the crowd something to savour by opening his shoulders to devastating effect, finishing with five fours and three sixes.