Rashid leads the way as Strikers dismantle Renegades


The Renegades had bowled well to keep Strikers to 149, but their batting fell away as they lost by 49 runs

Adelaide Strikers 149 (Short 32, Wells 37, Topley 3-32, Richardson 4-32) beat Melbourne Renegades 100 (Harper 33, Worral 2-18, Rashid 2-17, Agar 3-17) by 49 runs

Rashid Khan had Melbourne Renegades under a spell as Adelaide Strikers exacted revenge for their defeat two days ago, to emphatically win their home opener.
Having lost a nerve-jangler by two runs in Melbourne on Tuesday, the Strikers appeared in trouble of dropping another match to last season’s wooden spooners after posting a modest total.

But Rashid was at his brilliant best with the ball to lead a disciplined Strikers attack, as they defended with aplomb in a contest featuring bowling-dominant teams.

Rashid turns the match around
Good things tend to happen for Strikers when Rashid has the ball, even when he’s not taking wickets. With Renegades cruising in the chase after posting 36 runs from the four-over powerplay through impressive opening pair Sam Harper and Mackenzie Harvey, Rashid came on in the fifth over in a desperate bid to get Strikers back into the match.

Immediately, there was an air of expectation and Renegades batted cautiously as if merely trying to survive Rashid’s brilliance. On his fifth ball he had Harvey trapped in front but the huge appeal was turned down only for chaos to then ensue.

Non-striker Harper was seemingly in a trance, perhaps bewildered why Rashid’s hearty appeal was not given, and ball watched instead of taking an easy leg bye on offer. The batters were stuck at the same end leaving Harvey run out in another instance where Rashid’s effect on the contest was seismic.

He did not return until the ninth over, making another instant impact, this time by claiming the wicket of James Seymour to tilt the momentum.

The pumped-up Strikers stymied the runs and limited boundaries to strangle Renegades. Used in one-over bursts by stand-in skipper Peter Siddle, Rashid dismissed Jonathan Merlo in the 13th over to tighten Strikers’ grip on the contest.

Shorthanded Renegades need batting reinforcements
Just like in their season opener, where they collapsed to lose 6 for 9, the Renegades sunk after a bright start and lost composure. They promoted experienced Mohammad Nabi to No.4 in a bid to regain momentum but it didn’t do the trick as the inexperienced Renegades lost their cool with a flurry of wickets, much to the frustration of coach David Saker.

They will be satisfied with the progress of Harvey and Harper, but desperately need reinforcements through experienced stars Nic Maddinson, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh if they want to make the playoffs.

Zahir holds together Renegades’ attack after early onslaught
Much like Strikers, Renegades’ bowling is their strength and they impressed under pressure.

Perhaps inspired by the deeds of their regular skipper Travis Head earlier in the day, the Strikers smashed the highest total in the four-over powerplay thus far in the tournament with 48 runs.
It would have been even more if not for Zahir Khan, who was thrust into the attack in the third over. He was hit for two huge sixes by Matt Short, but recovered to clean bowl a bamboozled Jake Weatherald with a gem of a wrong ‘un.
Zahir then claimed the key wicket of the dangerous Short in his next over to continue his hot start to the season after claiming player-of-the-match on Tuesday with 3 for 24. The 22-year-old came back into the attack in the middle overs and bowled accurately to frustrate the stalled Strikers. He finished with a respectable 2 for 33 as quicks Reece Topley and Kane Richardson ran through the lower order.

The Strikers’ batting is their weak link
An early season headache for coach Jason Gillespie is his team’s fairly flimsy batting order, which has fallen away badly in both matches against Renegades. Without Head and Alex Carey, there simply isn’t enough firepower and depth.

The good news is that Short is living up to top billing with explosive batting at the top, but he needs to convert starts into meatier scores. However, No.3 Harry Nielsen has looked out of sync putting pressure on his teammates in the middle overs.

Jonathan Wells tried to resurrect momentum with a fluent 37, but he was dismissed at the start of the power surge to Richardson, who became just the third player to claim 100 BBL wickets, as the Strikers fell away once more to be bowled out with one over remaining.

Fortunately, they had Rashid Khan to bail them out.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth and writes on sports for the Guardian and mailerreport

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