Gades boost after Khawaja struck down
CRICKET: Melbourne Renegades' hopes of sneaking into the Big Bash League finals received a boost with Sydney Thunder superstar bat Usman Khawaja and middle-order sidekick Callum Ferguson ruled out of Wednesday night's clash.
The Thunder has also lost a bowling option with young spinner Ariun Nair's action deemed suspect, although he is still likely to play in Canberra as a batsman.
Renegades star Cameron White said Khawaja (thumb) loomed as the danger man on Monday after the Test batsman started 2018 by posting two match-winning Big Bash scores and an Ashes 171.
Former Renegade Ferguson (hamstring) will miss the rest of the season.
The Gades are poised for another major shake-up with White departing to rejoin Australia's ODI squad and opener Marcus Harris axed.
The Renegades are 4-4 with Brad Hodge set to become the club's fourth captain in as many games, following White, Dwayne Bravo and Aaron Finch.
Melbourne coach Andrew McDonald said they had lost their groove after three straight losses amid a bundle of forced selection changes.
They fielded the same 11 players for the first six matches before losing Finch, White and Afghanistan star Mohammad Nabi to international duty.
"That wasn't the style of cricket we want to play (against Adelaide Strikers on Monday night)," McDonald said.
"Containing the in batter has probably lost us the past few games. It's something we've got to be a bit better at."
The Renegades' eclectic attack did not concede a half-century in the first five matches as they soared to a 4-1 record.
But since then they have watched Perth's Ashton Turner (70 off 32), Star's Kevin Pietersen (74 off 46) and Adelaide's Colin Ingram (68 off 36) strike match-winning knocks against them.
Strikers captain Travis Head also raised the bat, scoring 58 (47) on Monday night.
But White pointed out that the Renegades' destiny was still in their own hands. They need at least one win from their final two matches to stay in the hunt.
After Wednesday night they fly to Brisbane to take on the Heat at the Gabba on Saturday.
If the Renegades win only one of their remaining games, net run-rate is set to decide whether they scrape into the semi-finals.
The Scorchers and Strikers have sewn up home semi-finals with next Thursday's clash scheduled for the new Perth Stadium and next Friday's fixture set for Adelaide Oval.
The Renegades might enjoy the road trips given another season of poor results at Etihad Stadium.
They've won just two out of 12 matches at the venue in the past three seasons.