Michael Klinger cracked an unbeaten century to lift the Perth Scorchers to a crushing 35-run victory over the Melbourne Renegades in Friday’s Big Bash League clash at the WACA Ground.
Klinger crunched a six on the final ball of Perth’s innings to finish unbeaten on 105 off 60 balls, with his blistering knock lifting the defending champions to 3-192 in front of 18,207 fans.
In reply, the Renegades were never in the hunt after slumping to 3-43 in the eighth over, with the visitors finishing at 9-157 despite some monstrous blows at the death from Andre Russell (43 off 21 balls).
The result leaves the Renegades winless after two games heading into Tuesday’s clash with the Sydney Thunder at Etihad Stadium.
Klinger’s blistering knock – the highest of this summer’s Big Bash League – proved to be the difference between the two sides.
The 34-year-old, who played alongside Phillip Hughes at the South Australian Redbacks last summer, paid tribute to his friend by raising his bat into the sky after reaching his century.
Klinger top-scored with 49 in the Scorchers’ loss to Adelaide, and he again led from the front in the high-stakes clash with the Renegades.
His 103-run partnership with Marcus Harris (53 off 39 balls) set the foundation for victory.
But the story could have been vastly different had paceman Andrew Fekete held onto a simple skied attempt when Harris was on just 10.
Harris made the most of the reprieve to do the early damage, before Klinger, who could have been run out on 30, came to the fore with some lusty blows.
Fekete finished with 1-41 from four overs while West Indian Dwayne Bravo (1-48) was also hammered.
Melbourne needed a fast start if they were to have any chance of overhauling the victory target.
But when Matthew Wade (14), Aaron Finch (15) and Tom Cooper (9) all fell cheaply in a pedestrian start from the Renegades, it was as good as game over.
Paceman Jason Behrendorff finished with 2-16 from four overs, while spinner Ashton Agar was also effective with two wickets, including the prized scalp of Finch.
Klinger said he was paying tribute to both his late mum and Hughes when he reached his century.
“I was just looking up to both of them and saying thanks,” Klinger said.
“It’s been extremely tough for everyone.
“The fact that we’re back playing cricket is certainly a good thing, but you don’t go through a day where it (Hughes’ death) doesn’t cross your mind.
“I mean, that sort of stuff just shouldn’t happen.”
Renegades skipper Aaron Finch rued his side’s sloppy fielding.
“We probably let them get 20 runs too many,” Finch said.
“I thought we were sloppy in the field and our energy was down. We missed a couple of chances.
“And when they go none down through the first 10 overs, it’s always going to make it tough.”