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Renegades run through Strikers

MELBOURNE – Marlon Samuels’ Melbourne Renegades all but booked a Big Bash League finals berth last night, crushing Kieron Pollard’s Adelaide Strikers by 48 runs at the Etihad Stadium.

After rare failures by the home team’s top order, a new batting weapon emerged as Tom Cooper smacked his highest domestic Twenty20 score to post what appeared a moderate 155 for 6.

But when Nathan Rimmington (2-22) and then Muthiah Muralitharan (3-18) cut a swathe through Adelaide’s top order, the mole hill target morphed into a major mountain as the Renegades won their fifth game in six starts to return to the top of the BBL ladder with two games to play before the finals.

Rimmington made the key breakthrough when Aaron O’Brien snared a Tim Ludeman bullet at mid-wicket, one of several stunning catches during the match.

When Will Sheridan dived forward at mid-off to pluck Michael Klinger for Rimmington’s second, the Strikers’ wheels were wobbling. Then Muralitharan weaved his magic to rip out Nathan Reardon (4), Kieron Pollard (0) and Theo Doropoulos (0) in four balls, they were off completely.

Johan Botha (31) and Michael Neser (29 not out) added respectability to the run chase with a 44-run stand for the seventh wicket, but the asking rate in excess of 13 for the final seven overs proved far too much.

Samuels (3-16) was animated in celebrating two late wickets, clearly excited at putting to bed a week of torment over his bowling action.

Cooper (59 off 46 balls), playing against mostly his South Australian teammates, helped spirit the home team out of early trouble with some clever late-innings work. He was more workmanlike than devastating, but took full toll on two leg-side full-tosses for sixes over the city side fence and featured in a 43-run stand with Sheridan (15 not out) off 27 balls for the sixth wicket.

There were several unusual occurrences during the innings.

The Strikers inadvertently unearthed a new fielding tactic when Pollard played soccer with a ball that Ben Rohrer had hit to within centimetres of the boundary line. Pollard’s outfield mate Michael Neser appeared to give up the “chase” and leisurely retrieved the ball as Rohrer and Cooper stopped running. After a video review, the umpires confirmed the ball hadn’t touched the rope and the Renegades credited with just two runs.

Kieron Pollard engaging in some fun with team-mates after his great catch.

Pollard, typically, was never far from the action once he began his spell in the 12th over, serving a constant diet of slower balls mixed in with his customary chats with batsmen and even one delivery from 3m behind the popping crease. But his biggest input was far more spectacular, removing danger man Rohrer for 35 off 27 balls with a diving catch off his own bowling.

Rohrer mishit a shot he tried to chip for two behind the umpire and Pollard sensed the chance, turned and launched himself to snare a one-handed catch running with the flight of the ball to near where a regulation mid-on would field.††

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