Chris Gayle has blasted the equal-fastest half-century in Twenty20 history but it was not enough for Melbourne Renegades to advance to the Big Bash League semi-finals.
The Renegades needed to reach Adelaide Strikers’ target of 171 runs in 16 overs if they were to replace Sydney Thunder in fourth place on the ladder but they fell to a 27-run defeat, despite Gayle’s heroics.
In front of 25,227 fans at Docklands, the star West Indian import set the tone early with four sixes in a row off the first over of Renegades’ innings, bowled by Greg West.
Gayle equalled the 12-ball half-century made by India’s Yuvraj Singh with his seventh towering six before he was caught behind by Tim Ludeman off the bowling of Travis Head for 56 runs off 17 balls at a strike rate of 329.41.
The innings was a return to the headlines for Gayle – for the right reasons this time – after he copped plenty of ire for a sideline chat earlier this season with journalist Mel McLaughlin, where he said he was keen to be interviewed by her “just to see [her] eyes for the first time”.
But at Docklands, while Gayle plundered the attack at one end, wickets fell regularly at the other.
Tom Cooper, Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo departed cheaply as Renegades slumped to 3 for 60, with a groan of disappointment heard around the ground when Gayle followed.
Peter Nevill (21 off 19 balls), Nathan Rimmington (26 off 19) and Cameron Gannon (23 off 15) kept Renegades’ faint hopes alive but their BBL05 campaign ended in the 16th over – bowled out for 143.
Head was the pick of the Strikers bowlers with 3-16 off two overs.
Earlier, White won the toss and sent Adelaide in to bat but, led by openers Jono Dean and Tim Ludeman, the visitors were cruising at 0 for 85 in the 11th over.
However, the Renegades managed to launch a counter-attack – storming back into the contest with 4 for 22 through the middle overs.
Bravo made the important breakthrough, dismissing Dean for 48 off 35 balls, with Travis Head (0) and Alex Ross (4) falling in quick succession.
Ludeman had played a support role to Dean, who smashed four sixes, but the opener became Xavier Doherty’s second wicket when he was trapped LBW for 49 off 41 balls.
Strikers skipper Brad Hodge, who finished unbeaten on 37 from 21 balls, combined with Jake Lehmann for an important 55-run partnership that tipped the scales back in their side’s favour.
Doherty was the best of the bowlers with 2 for 30 from his four overs as Strikers finished their 20 overs at 5 for 170.
Strikers will host the first semi-final against Thunder on Thursday night, with Melbourne Stars to host their semi-final against Perth Scorchers at the MCG on Friday night. (AAP)