Gades fail to fire first up as Thunder stay perfect
Aaron Finch's credit card should've been used to shout the bar when Melbourne Renegades drowned their sorrows after Thursday night's Big Bash championship defence started with a sloppy defeat.
Finch was directing traffic in the field at GMHBA Stadium when at 9.21pm Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore purchased the Aussie white-ball captain for $900,000.
Best mate Glenn Maxwell - axed from Australia's ODI team on Tuesday - tracked the Indian Premier League auction with Stars list boss Trent Woodhill on the Gold Coast and rejoiced when Kings XI Punjab purchased him for a staggering $2.2 million.
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Maxwell will take home more cash from the IPL than all of his Melbourne Stars teammates combined, with BBL salaries capped at $1.82 million.
Pat Cummins broke the record for an overseas player when Brendan McCullum's IPL franchise fetched $3.1 million while it was a rich night with the bat for Thunder's opening batsmen with Usman Khawaja (66) and Alex Hales (68) posting the only two half-centuries of the match.
They soaked up 21 dots in the power-play but their 99-run opening stand allowed Sydney to surge late after being set 170 for victory.
Hales cranked 20 runs off Nottingham teammate Dan Christian in the 16th over to rock the Renegades and, while he holed out two balls later, the equation was simple.
Thunder's bench burst into laughter when a Finch misfield gifted Alex Ross a boundary in the penultimate over, and they required just six runs from English debutant Richard Gleeson's final over.
An Alex Ross boundary sent Sydney 2-0 and to the top of the Big Bash ladder in another unpredictable season.
Finch wasn't alone - the red team was rusty in the field and new coach Michael Klinger will want to see a sharper edge when they fly west to take on Shaun Marsh's old Perth Scorchers Saturday night.
Khawaja said after the match he avoided injury when he took a tumble turning for a second run halfway through his classy knock.
NEW COACH, SAME BLUEPRINT
It was more of the same for Renegades. Last season they made a habit of strangling teams with the ball and sharing the load with the bat, posting a BBL-low three half-centuries across 16 games.
It's a team that relies on cameos rather than killer blows and, while Marsh was brought in to be that anchor man at No. 3, he top-scored with only 42 (33).
Finch conceded that Marsh can take a few balls to get going and that helped explain why he chose to open the batting with Sam Harper.
It was as if Finch had strutted to the crease with David Warner and, while Harper is more baby than bull, the little keeper likes to explode from the start.
Thursday night Harper ramped his second ball for four to kick-start a firecracker innings, striking at 205.
Harper has a tendency to win Renegades their power-plays without even seeing them out.
The pulsating start - Melbourne's 1-61 was the best power-play this summer - allowed Finch to relax, although the middle order was largely contained.
Tom Cooper - the Sheffield Shield leading run-scorer - scratched around for 13 (17) while Dan Christian and Beau Webster joined him in the teens.
BOW STAYS TIED ON SUTHO
Aussie fans keen for another glimpse at wonder kid Will Sutherland had to wait when big Beau Webster got the nod in a lineball selection call.
Sutherland - who was a top-five AFL draft prospect in 2017 before giving footy the boot - has been backed to take the Big Bash by storm this season.
The powerful allrounder can clear the ropes and open the bowling, but with English quicks Harry Gurney and Richard Gleeson partnering Kane Richardson in the power-play the Gades opted for 'Slug' Webster.
Renegades traded Matthew Wade to Hobart Hurricanes for Webster two years ago and, while Wade has risen to the Test team, Webster has played just a dozen BBL games.
But the big man clubbed a six off Renegades championship-winning bowler Chris Tremain in the final over to help the red team set 170 for victory.