On Monday, Chris Gayle made headlines, and on Saturday night it was the man everyone knows as ‘KP’ who decided to change the tempo to one of sixes and big cheering.
Amid the chaos of a run-out from Adam Zampa’s now very sore nose, Gayle’s mini-whirlwind and Pietersen’s bombs into the crowd, the damning issue was the Renegades on-field.
Having been asked to bat first, and without experienced captain Aaron Finch and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, from ball one the red men were under pressure, and it showed very step of the way.
When Tom Cooper was smartly pouched by Stars keeper Peter Handscomb in the second over, the unravelling began.
The inability by the likes of Renegades skipper Cameron White, Gayle and Tom Beaton later in the innings to capitalise brought what needed to be a 180 par score down to 156.
If there is one man the rest of the red men must thank, it is Dwayne Bravo (an unbeaten 59 from 37 balls). When Gayle and White fell to Marcus Stoinis (3/11), the crumble looked set to happen rapidly before the resurrection with Tom Beaton (29).
Zampa brought the innings to a nosey halt as a ball slammed back at him by Bravo deflected from the toe of Nevill’s bat straight into the leg-spinner’s face and it cannoned into the stumps. It wasn’t until the umpires tapped Nevill on the shoulder that he realised he had been dismissed; albeit in the most bizarre fashion.
The sorry story continued as Luke Wright and Stoinis decided to turn it up a notch and belt the Renegades into submission with the runs per over eclipsing 10 before they could even blink. Where experience was so crucial, the key let-down of the Renegades bowling attack was horribly exposed by Pietersen and later Handscomb.
Wright (37) had already done enough damage, with the Renegades dejected body language obvious to the 43,000+ fans who packed Etihad Stadium. The English import has scored almost 200 runs for the Stars in the past three outings and has proven crucial at the top of the order.
Cameron White and Ben McDermott almost had a collision that brought back memories of last year’s ugly head clash between Moises Henriques and Rory Burns in England. Both Renegades fieldsmen had no eyes for the ball, and proceeded to see it drop in the middle of them – a sure sign of mis-communication.
Finals are now out of the question for the Renegades unless every result falls their way, while the Stars now have four on the trot and look set for a semi-final.
Zampa said post-game that despite the injury he was well aware of the game situation.
“I realised what had happened,” said Zampa. “As soon as it hit me I said it’s out, but it (my nose) was pretty sore!
“It was an important wicket.”
The Renegades can already bookmark the need for an experienced T20 death bowler for BBL|06 in the likes of a James Faulkner or Ben Laughlin, while the Stars proved they do not need superstars at times to make it all the way.