Melbourne Stars 3 for 151 (Stoinis 78*, Boyce 2-23) beat Melbourne Renegades 9 for 148 (Christian 32, Bravo 3-27) by seven wickets
Melbourne Stars took the honours in the derby clash against Melbourne Renegades at the MCG, comfortably chasing down 149. Marcus Stoinis produced a superb all-round display, capped by his unbeaten 78 to ensure the Stars had a few concerns in reaching the target with 13 balls to spare.
The Renegades made a strong start having been put into bat, but that was as good as it got for them after the opening stand of 52 was broken. The Stars' bowlers shared the plaudits, though the pace trio of Stoinis, Scott Boland and Dwayne Bravo claimed seven wickets between them. There was a prime scalp for Sandeep Lamichhane before he departs for the BPL to give the throng of Nepalese supporters plenty to cheer.
After a solid start to the chase, the result rarely looked in doubt, although Ben Dunk and Nick Larkin were dismissed in quick succession, a stand of 65 between Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell getting the job almost done. The win leaves the Stars in the clutch of teams on four points which also includes the Renegades, although they have lost their last two matches.
Flexibility in T20 is important, but uncertainty is a problem. The Renegades are not the only team still trying to work out their top-order combinations but have tinkered in each of their matches so far. Tonight it was the young pair of Sam Harper and Mackenzie Harvey, and for a little over four overs, all went swimmingly as they added 52. Harper, who has been up and down the order so far in the tournament, has now managed three scores between 28 and 36. Harvey, a player of much promise, made 30 on his debut against Sydney Sixers and again played nicely here before falling to an excellent catch running backwards by Maxwell. It was a turning point of the innings as Harper was bowled by Adam Zampa next over: 52 for the opening stand, 9 for 96 for the rest of the innings. After making 9 for 99 in their chase against Sixers, there will be a few batting concerns growing with no one yet to register a half-century.
Eye's on spin, up steps seamers
Much attention was on the spinners, and they certainly played an important role with Zampa's strike and Lamichhane producing a lovely googly to defeat Tom Cooper, but this was also an innings for the seamers. Maxwell was smart in his use of his attack as he went back to all pace after the Powerplay when Mohammad Nabi - a player more comfortable against spin than pace - was at the crease and the move worked when Nabi top-edged a hoick off Stoinis. Bravo then struck in his first over, albeit with a full-toss clipped to midwicket, and the Renegades were 4 for 76 at halfway, in the midst of a slide they would be unable to stop.
Edge? What edge?
When a batsman is in a bit of a slump, a touch of luck can help. When Dunk was on 1, the Renegades were convinced he had edged Usman Shinwari to the keeper but the umpire was unmoved. Dunk had made 2, 10 and 4 at the start of this edition of the tournament, but now began to find his feet. By the time he was stumped, missing a slog-sweep against Cameron Boyce, 32 was Dunk's highest T20 score in 10 innings since making 47 against the same opponents on January 6 last year. It was just the fifth time he had reached double figures in T20 in 14 innings since he last played for Australia in early 2017. The opening stand of 67 with Stoinis was the Stars' best in 15 matches.
Stoinis' chance up top
Two wickets, a good catch in the deep and then 78 to guide the run chase. It was a handy night for Stoinis. It was the batting that was arguably the most significant as it was the first time this season he had opened the innings - a role he has not held consistently in T20 cricket since 2016. He certainly made the most of his chance to build an innings from the outset. The most noticeable feature was his power down the ground: he pulled Nabi straight for six, deposited Dan Christian over long-on with a shot that left the bowler wondering what had happened, and finished the game with a pull over deep square-leg for his fourth six of a very fine innings.