Scoring man Aaron Finch steered the Melbourne Renegades to a six-wicket win over Adelaide, booking the franchise’s first BBL Final appearance in four years.
Celebrating his 100th BBL game, Finch survived a few early scares – including a ball hitting his stumps but failing to dislodge bail – to hit an unbeaten 63 to guide the Renegades home with 10 balls to spare at Marvel Stadium .
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: Massive BBL confusion in Renegades clash with Strikers.
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The Australian T20 captain notched his fourth 50 of the tournament and 26th in the BBL, and was joined in the crease by Jon Wells (20 no) to complete the game.
Finch remained calm as wickets fell around him, including those of former international stars Martin Guptill and Shaun Marsh, as he built up his innings before powering the Renegades into the final 10 overs.
There was also mass drama and confusion when Sam Harper was at the crease, who was trapped LBW by Peter Siddle for a single run.
During Harper’s brief innings, commentators were left baffled when the Strikers set up their field with six players on the leg side.
Channel 7 guest commentator, Sydney Thunder star Chris Green picked up on the blunder to officials and wondered what was going on.
“They don’t realize there’s going to be a no-ball. There’s six men on the leg side…and there’s only three offside outfielders,” Green observed.
“If he (Matt Short) goes down on that ball, I hope Harper notices because he has a free kick before he releases it.”
Harper was then caught by the leg slide and dropped, but this was overruled by the review system.
But, in incredible scenes, the Strikers again set up with the same field placement for the next ball, and weren’t penalized with a no-ball.
FULL DASHBOARD All stats from the Renegades win over the Strikers
“The pitch still hasn’t changed…they ran away with a no-ball, and it should be another no-ball if he plays this one,” Green said.
Channel 7 commentator James Brayshaw was puzzled and Green said he was “baffled”.
“We hear you’re absolutely spot on Greeny, you can’t have six men on the side so why didn’t the officials figure that out?” Brayshaw asked.
“You’re basically telling us there should have been two no-balls.”
At that moment, Finch could be heard shouting from the sideline, “Two in a row!”
Finch was soon at the crease and was nothing short of sensational.
“It was just another show that he (Finch) is a class above, he showed his experience again,” said Renegades speedy Tom Rogers.
“Not many guys could have played those innings on that wicket.”
Even on tricky ground, the Strikers’ 7-142 never looked seriously defensible as Adelaide’s dim hopes in the final ended in their ninth defeat of the tournament.
After winning their first title in 2019, the Renegades endured three dismal seasons before launching a much improved campaign.
They will now have a home final after taking care of the Strikers to snap a two-game losing streak and finish third or fourth depending on Wednesday’s results.
The Sydney Thunder could jump over the Renegades in third if they crush the Melbourne Stars at the MCG and close the net run rate gap.
“You play so much cricket and so few finals, either quality cricket or professional cricket, so it’s quite exciting to be in that position,” Rogers said.
Earlier, Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey impressed in tough conditions with an outstanding 65 from 47 balls, but all of the Strikers’ other batters found it difficult after Finch opted to play first.
Even Travis Head, who has become one of the most explosive mid-level players in Test cricket, struggled 19 from 32 balls.
Adelaide stumbled to 1-25 after the first power play and were unable to build momentum as veteran spinner Fawad Ahmed caused trouble to claim 3-17 numbers.
The Strikers’ innings dropped to new lows when Wells knocked out Cameron Boyce with a long throw from half the line.
“It’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow because we’re a pretty talented group of players,” Strikers coach Jason Gillespie said.
“We just haven’t been able to find a way to get the job done at critical moments in games throughout the season, which is disappointing.”