Aaron Finch and Chris Gayle to form lethal one-two punch for Melbourne Renegades

Chris Gayle in his previous BBL incarnation with Sydney Thunder Photo: Brendan EspositoMelbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch is hoping he and Chris Gayle can live up to their billing as the most lethal one-two punch in the Big Bash League.

Gayle is set to arrive in Melbourne this week ahead of the start of the domestic Twenty20 competition on Thursday, and the excitement for what the Carribean superstar and Australia’s shortest-form skipper can produce as an opening partnership is building.

Even though Gayle’s last appearance in the BBL with Sydney Thunder was not a success, Finch is confident his team can create an environment for the powerful left-hander to become a valuable weapon.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of some of his enormous innings in the past so it will be good to actually play with him,” Finch said.

“If we can bat around Chris and allow him the right amount of time to get going, it doesn’t guarantee success, but I think it sets up a pretty good model.”

The Gayle-Finch tag team is arguably the best in the world, and the challenge of turning that moniker into something meaningful for the Renegades is one Finch says the pair will “absolutely” embrace.

“The statistics would say that Chris is the best player in the world and I’m a pretty good player as well, so it could turn out to be quite a nice combination,” Finch said.

Whether Gayle can consistently rock Etihad Stadium for the Renegades after failing to deliver in his second season with the Thunder will be a key storyline of the BBL this summer.

Despite his phenomenal Twenty20 record worldwide, several clubs including the Thunder opted against signing Gayle after he chewed up much of the Thunder’s salary cap for very little return and the team finished on the bottom of the ladder.

He also brings with him a reputation for having as much fun off the field as he does on, but Finch said there were several reasons why Gayle would be better suited to performing for the Renegades.

“He’ll be in Melbourne, for one,” Finch said.

“It’s a great spot and Dwayne Bravo, one of his good mates is here as well. So I think it will be a little bit more comfortable for him here, I think.

“He’s played enough cricket around the world – I think he’s played Twenty20 in most of the countries that you can play – so it’s just about making Chris as comfortable as he can possibly be and fit, that’s all we’re worried about.”

Fitness is a key factor where Gayle is concerned.

He will start with the Renegades on a limited preparation on the comeback from back surgery.

“I think it’s just a case of wait and see when he gets here,” Finch said, when asked whether Gayle would be ready to go from the outset.

“I know he has been smacking them around in Bangladesh, and I’m sure he has been swinging hard testing it out as well.

From a personal standpoint, Finch will be hoping for a productive BBL to steer him into the World Twenty20 in India next April.

“I feel really good. My body is excellent and I feel like I am hitting them well so it’s all pointing to an exciting tournament,” the 29-year-old said.

Finch continued his preparation for the series during a practice match in Footscray on Sunday, and looked good at the crease before being run out for 14 off eight balls.

The Renegades defeated a Cricket Victoria Invitational XI as part of a family day at Merv Hughes Oval, scoring 7-146 from their 20 overs before bowling out the opposition for just 97.

The Renegades begin their BBL campaign against Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Saturday night.

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