There were extraordinary scenes in the BBL on Tuesday night when the Adelaide Strikers were caught with too many players on the leg-side during their clash with the Melbourne Renegades. The Strikers were eliminated from finals contention after Aaron Finch steered his side into the playoffs with 63 not out off 54 balls.
Playing his 100th game in the competition, Finch survived some early scares - including a ball hitting his stumps but failing to dislodge the bails - to chase down the Strikers' total of 7-142 with 10 balls to spare at Marvel Stadium. It marked his fourth half-century this season and the 26th of his BBL career.
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There were bizarre scenes early in the Renegades' run chase when Finch had to alert the umpires to an illegal field setting from the Strikers - even though he wasn't on the field at the time. With Sam Harper and Shaun Marsh at the crease, Strikers captain Travis Head moved himself from slip to leg-slip due to the spin that Matt Short was generating.
The move nearly paid dividends straight away when Head appeared to take a blinding catch to dismiss Harper, only for the DRS to reveal the ball had hit Harper's pad instead of his bat. But a bigger problem soon emerged when umpires were alerted to the fact that Head was actually in an illegal fielding position.
When he moved himself to leg-slip he became the sixth fielder on the leg-side. Under BBL rules, there can only be a maximum of five fielders on one side at a time.
Sydney Thunder player Chris Green, in commentary for Channel 7 at the time, noticed the illegal move before the ball was delivered. "They don't realise there's about to be a no-ball called," Green said.
"If he runs in and bowls this ball, Harper has a free hit before he releases it."
The umpires actually didn't realise the illegality until two balls were bowled with the field placed like that. The on-field officials were only alerted when Finch started yelling out from the Renegades' dugout. A no-ball was eventually called by the umpires, giving the Renegades a free hit.
Aaron Finch guides Melbourne Renegades into BBL finals
Finch was joined at the crease by Jono Wells (20 not out) to finish off the match. The win seals the Renegades' first finals appearance in the BBL since they won the title in 2019.
"That was just another demonstration that he (Finch) is a class above, he showed his experience again," Renegades bowler Tom Rogers said. "Not a lot of blokes could have played that innings on that wicket."
After capturing their maiden title in 2019, the Renegades have endured three seasons of mediocrity. But they have now finished the regular season in third or spot and will have a home final.
"You play so much cricket and so few finals, whether it's grade cricket or professional cricket. So it's pretty exciting to be in this position," Rogers said.
BBL finals schedule
'The Eliminator' - Sydney Thunder (4) v Brisbane Heat (5), Sydney Showground Stadium, Friday, 7:15pm
'The Qualifier' - Perth Scorchers (1) v Sydney Sixers (2), Optus Stadium, Saturday, 4:15pm AWST
'The Knockout' - Melbourne Renegades (3) v winner of 'The Eliminator', Marvel Stadium, Sunday 7:15pm AEDT
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