DIMI Mascarenhas took the crucial wicket of Chris Gayle to ensure a memorable Melbourne Stars win on his Big Bash debut.
Hampshire's T20 captain took 2-27 from his four overs as the Stars won their must-win clash against Sydney Thunder by 13 runs to reach the Big Bash semi-finals Mascarenhas had been playing club cricket for Melbourne outfit Prahran when he was given the chance to play at the MCG in place of Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga.
The competition’s leading wicket-taker was needed to prepare for Sri Lanka’s forthcoming one-day series against Australia, so Mascarenhas stepped in to play alongside the likes of, Luke Wright, Brad Hodge, Clint McKay and Jackson Bird, Australia’s most recent Test debutant.
He nearly had Gayle's wicket with his first ball, but Cameron White, deputising for banned captain Shane Warne, dropped a sitter before Hampshire teammate Glenn Maxwell took the catch that gave Mascarenhas the West Indies captain's scalp.
Mascarenhas holed out for one as Melbourne made 145, but his dismissal of Gayle was a defining moment as Sydney were 91-2, needing 55 from the last 48 balls, when the Hampshire veteran struck at the beginning of the 13th over.
Gayle was caught in the deep for a 43-ball 65 and Mascarenhas had his second wicket four overs later when David Hussey held on at long-on to dismiss Ryan Carters.
He said: "It was great to get an opportunity and awesome to get a couple of wickets.
“When Chris Gayle gets going, the world knows he can whack the ball out of the stadium, so it was good to get him out.
“I’m not really sure how we won but we did it!”
Sydney Thunder were already assured of the wooden spoon.
Folowing their eighth successive defeat, Gayle said: "Mascarenhas getting me out was the turning point."
Melbourne Stars will play their semi-final on January 15 or 16 and their president, Eddie McGuire, is delighted to have Mascarenhas available.
He said: "I’m so glad we got Dimi, he's got a lot of experience and was fantastic. It was not only him getting Chris Gayle, but his fielding was also great.
"He was unlucky to get caught on the boundary but played his part and we’re thrilled to have him.”
Warne will be available for the semi-final after missing the win against Sydney Thunder following his flare-up with Marlon Samuels in the recent Melbourne derby.