Sent packing: Ricky Ponting is bowled by Muthiah Muralidaran last night. Photo: Getty Images
THE only thing capable of curbing the stellar form of Aaron Finch and his Melbourne Renegades is absurd rules.
In the week after Perth was skittled for 69, the Hobart Hurricanes stumbled to 9-102 on Wednesday night at Etihad Stadium against the Renegades. While Perth's score was influenced by challenging WACA Ground pitch conditions, there were no such excuses in this instance. The Renegades coasted to 3-103 to win by seven wickets with 6.4 overs to spare.
The result, achieved in front of a crowd of 7951, strengthened the Renegades' unlikely hold on top spot, with the ease of their win providing a crucial net run-rate boost as well. With a perfect record after three matches the Renegades may only need to win two more to secure a semi-final berth.
Hobart's batting was abysmal yet somehow was not the biggest lowlight of the night. That was reserved for Renegades captain Finch being left with no reward after an astonishing swipe off Doug Bollinger that was on track to land in the top tier of Etihad Stadium - until it struck a beam located underneath the roof. Despite the impact occurring beyond the boundary - about 25 metres above it - it was ruled a dead ball by the umpires.
The dead-ball call only prolonged the inevitable result: a crushing win for the home team. Star import Marlon Samuels crunched three consecutive boundaries in his cameo of 21 before Finch effortlessly contributed an unbeaten 46 from 40 deliveries.
With all 10 preceding Big Bash League matches this season being won by the chasing team, and with the Renegades having chased clinically against the Stars and Thunder already this season, it was little surprise home captain Finch elected to bowl after winning the toss.
The Hurricanes' top four of Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting, Travis Birt and Owais Shah are among the strongest in the BBL yet all but one were gone within the first nine overs after little impact. The only survivor, Shah, played as if surviving was his primary goal, requiring 29 deliveries to compile 14.
Had it not been for Ponting's glorious six over cover in the eighth over, Hobart's innings could legitimately have finished without a highlight.
Excluding Ponting's 26 the balance of the Hurricanes' top six contributed only 29 runs. The spin-dominated attack of Aaron O'Brien (2-19), Muthiah Muralidaran (2-16) and Samuels (3-22) offered no easy runs. Their opponents, however, provided plentiful easy wickets.
T PAINE c Nevill b Rimmington 7
R PONTING b Muralidaran 25
T BIRT c Harris b Samuels 5
O SHAH b Samuels 14
G BAILEY c and b O'Brien 2
S STYRIS lbw b Muralidaran 1
J KREJZA lbw b Rimmington 5
B LAUGHLIN c Pattinson b Samuels 10
M HOGAN c Samuels b Rimmington 3
X DOHERTY not out 10
D BOLLINGER not out 6
Sundries (4b, 1lb, 9w) 14
Total (9 wkts - 20 overs) 102
Fall of wickets: 21 (Paine), 27 (Birt), 46 (Ponting), 50 (Bailey), 51 (Styris), 62 (Krejza), 75 (Laughlin), 81 (Shah), 87 (Hogan)
Bowling: A O'Brien 4-0-19-1 (1w/2), D Pattinson 2-0-16-0, W Sheridan 2-0-6-0, N Rimmington 4-0-18-3 (1w/2), M Samuels 4-0-22-3 (1w), M Muralidaran 4-0-16-2 (1w/4)
A FINCH not out 46
D HARRIS c Krejza b Doherty 3
M SAMUELS b Hogan 21
B ROHRER b Doherty 18
T COOPER not out 10
Sundries (5w) 5
Total (3 wkts - 13.2 overs) 103
Fall of wickets: 10 (Harris), 40 (Samuels), 65 (Rohrer)
Bowling: D Bollinger 2-0-20-0 (1w), X Doherty 4-1-17-2, M Hogan 1-0-16-1, B Laughlin 3-0-19-0 (1w), J Krejza 2-0-20-0 (3w), S Styris 1.2-0-11-0
Result: Melbourne Renegades won by 7 wickets