Melbourne Renegades 3 for 131 (S Marsh 62, Finch 35, Richardson 2-20) beat Perth Scorchers 130 (Hardie 33, Richardson 3-22, Lalor 3-30) by seven wickets
The Melbourne Renegades, BBL champions two seasons ago, made an assured start to their campaign with a comfortable victory over the Perth Scorchers in Hobart. Set a middling target of 131, the Renegades were led home by a well-paced half-century from Perth old boy Shaun Marsh, after a fine all-round bowling performance in which Kane Richardson, Josh Lalor and fidgety freshman Peter Hatzoglou shared eight wickets between them.
The Scorchers innings was hobbled from the start, as they slipped to 3 for 19 inside three overs, losing both of their overseas batsmen - Colin Munro and Joe Clarke - and last season's top-scorer Josh Inglis. The highest partnership of the innings came between Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Turner, club captain and on-field leader respectively, but sharp work from the Renegades' keeper, Sam Harper, saw Turner run-out attempting a quick single and they struggled to cut loose at any stage.
With a much-changed Renegades bowling attack featuring as many as four debutants clicking in their first outing, the Scorchers were grateful for Aaron Hardie's 36-ball 33 helping to keep them at bay. But with Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch piling on a 70-run opening stand in good time, Turner's side was unable to put any pressure on the chase.
Renegades bowlers bounce back
Success in 2018-19 was based around the best bowling attack in the BBL - a stat that was turned on its head as they limped home in eighth place last year. After being put into the field at Bellerive Oval, the Renegades' resurgence was immediate. Over the off-season, they recruited Lalor from Brisbane Heat and the experienced left-armer struck with his fifth ball to remove Munro. New-ball partner Kane Richardson was also successful in his opening over and when Lalor had Clarke caught behind off a top-edge in the next the tone was set. Last season, the Renegades only managed 17 powerplay wickets in 14 games; here they had bagged three in 18 balls.
What exactly was Hatzoglou, another Renegades new boy, bowling? Were they medium-pace cutters, quick googlies or skiddy non-turning legbreaks? An accurate definition probably lies somewhere in the middle of that mixed bag, but these were far-from-ordinary all-sorts from the tall Hatzoglou, who had most recently been playing "3rd XI district cricket" before being spotted by the Renegades. Thrown in during the Scorchers' powerplay, his first over went for 12, but he returned with the field out to strike immediately, Cameron Bancroft baffled by one that skidded back at him - although it might well have been missing leg stump. Hatzoglou's brand of fast leggies and googlies, almost all above 100kph, kept the Scorchers guessing through the middle overs, in tandem with English wobble-merchant Benny Howell, and after pinning Mitchell Marsh with another wrong-un he finished with impressive figures of 2 for 29. Michael Klinger, the Renegades head coach, later admitted that Hatzoglou would have been unlikely to play had Cameron Boyce been available - but after a debut that will have opposition analysts scrambling, he might be hard to dislodge.
Melbourne surge up top
If the bowling was about new faces, the Renegades relied on old gold at the top of their batting order. They had tried four different opening combinations in 2019-20, but surprisingly none of them was Finch-Marsh, two of the leading run-scorers in BBL history. A vaunted Scorchers attack featuring Australia internationals Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, AJ Tye and Fawad Ahmed needed to pick up early wickets, but Finch and Shaun Marsh were quickly into their stride, taking the four-over Powerplay for 29 and cruising at well above the required rate. Turner was forced to stick with his frontline bowlers through the first half of the innings but could even steal a Bash Boost point despite Jhye Richardson foxing Finch with a slower ball.