Renegades edge Thunder in Big Bash clash
Sydney Thunder's ice-cool cavalry arrived on Friday night in the form of Chris Gayle, but the West Indies superstar was unable to save the Big Bash League franchise's blushes in a five-wicket loss to the Melbourne Renegades at ANZ Stadium.
Gayle was run out by Darren Pattinson for 12 in the fifth over when his sliding bat became stuck in the soft grass adjacent to the wicket, the dismissal starting a rapid rot as the Thunder were restricted to just 7-116.
It was never going to be enough and so it proved as a cautious 31 from Renegades captain Aaron Finch, who earlier sent the hosts in, laid the platform for the Thunder's seventh consecutive Twenty20 loss.
Finch, who hammered an unbeaten 111 in the season opener against the Melbourne Stars, took a risk-averse approach and left the visitors needing 50 off 52 balls when he was caught behind off Sean Abbott.
There threatened to be some late drama when Tom Cooper (11) and Ben Rohrer (27) fell in the space of 11 balls shortly after Finch's exit, but the Thunder simply didn't have enough runs to play with.
Will Sheridan brought up the winning runs with 10 deliveries remaining in front of 7413 fans.
Express paceman Dirk Nannes bowled with great venom, typified by speeds of almost 150km/h and a crunching collision with Renegades opener Daniel Harris, and was unlucky to only capture the wicket of Cooper.
Pakistan allrounder Azhar Mahmood, like Gayle playing his first game of the BBL season, had Harris out edging and clean bowled Marlon Samuels with a full toss to give the hosts hope in the fledgling stage of the Renegades' at-times unconvincing chase.
Earlier, Gayle launched a towering six over the head of mid-on from Sheridan's bowling, while Usman Khawaja was starting to look comfortable when the hosts reached 0-23 after four overs.
Gayle's departure was followed by a slew of wickets - the vast majority from poor shot selection while the run-rate dried up - as the Thunder crumbled to just 7-60 in the 14th over.
The lusty hitting of tailender Chris Tremain (37no from 23 balls) pushed the Thunder's total past 100, but the fact the No 9 was the only batsman to pass 20 encapsulated an innings that unravelled far too easily.
Aaron O'Brien claimed figures of 3-15 to be the Renegades' best bowler, while Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan deceived Khawaja (19) and Mark Cosgrove (12) to snare 2-16 from his four overs.