Sunshine Coast: Aaron Finch has issued a reminder of his power just days out from the start of the Big Bash League, thrashing 64 from 29 balls to help the Melbourne Renegades to a second straight practice match win against Brisbane Heat in Maroochydore.
Having restricted the weakened Heat - who were without gun batsmen Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum - to 6-136 from their 20 overs, the Renegades cruised home to win by nine wickets with seven overs to spare.
Finch had broken the back of the target, leaving a string of Brisbane seamers in his wake. The Melbourne captain dominated a 75-run opening stand with Marcus Harris before eventually being bowled by leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson.
Harris (47 not out) and Cameron White (20 not out) took over where Finch left off to ensure the Renegades head into their season opener against Hobart at Blundstone Arena on Thursday on a positive note.
The Renegades earlier shared their wickets around. Kane Richardson finished with the best figures of 2-27 from four overs, while Finch even chimed in, removing Brisbane captain Joe Burns for eight during his one over, which went for three.
Finch said he was happy with how his team was tracking, noting that the side's XI was far from clear.
"It's far from settled," Finch said.
"One really positive thing that we've got going into the first game is that we've probably got 14 or 15 guys who are a realistic chance of playing in that first game.
"It's great to have options with how you structure up your team. When you're trying to find guys to fill spots, that can be a dangerous place to be.
"[We] couldn't ask for much more for a lead-in to a Big Bash.
"As you get closer and closer to the first game you're making sure that you're trying to replicate what you think's going to happen in the first game, so it was nice to win both games and play really good cricket."Finch also said the Renegades would likely wait until they had played at least one game of the BBL proper before finalising replacement players for injured pair James Pattinson and Guy Walker. Young seamer Xavier Crone looks likely to fill one of the spots.
The Renegades had won Friday's meeting between the two sides by 20 runs on the back of Tom Cooper's 68 from 46 balls. Finch had been rested in that match, but had already impressed in the lead-up to the BBL, making 76 from 39 balls in an intra-club match last weekend.
Things weren't as fruitful for the Melbourne Stars, who were beaten convincingly by tournament outsiders Hobart in Traralgon on Friday night. Hurricanes skipper George Bailey top-scored with 41 from 31 balls as Hobart reached 5-175 from their 20 overs. Adam Zampa was again the pick of the Stars' bowlers, taking 2-21 from three overs. The Stars never generated any significant momentum in their chase after losing openers Luke Wright and Ben Dunk cheaply.
At one stage they fell to 8-76, and only the late-hitting of all-rounder Evan Gulbis (47 from 31 balls) added a semblance of respectability.
Seeking a breakthrough BBL title after six successive seasons of finals disappointment, the Stars begin their campaign away to Brisbane on Wednesday night.
The destructive Lynn, who recently declared his desire to play against the Stars in that match, looked unhindered as he batted in the nets adjacent to the ground yesterday. He has been in a race against time to be right for the Heat's opener following shoulder surgery in July.