Big Bash League 2016/17: Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades

Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades

Friday 20th January 7:40pm AEDT

Having secured their place in the top four, the Brisbane Heat will now set their sights on a home final when they take on the Melbourne Renegades at the Gabba on Friday night.


Brisbane Heat

The Heat will make their first semi-final appearance in four years after a brave win over the Melbourne Stars last Tuesday ensured that they could not finish any lower than third. Starting as big underdogs owing to the absences of Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum and Samuel Badree, Brisbane got off to the ideal start when young paceman Mark Steketee (2/20 off four overs) claimed the prize scalps of Rob Quiney and Kevin Pietersen in the first over, reducing the Stars to 2/1.

Although the Stars then managed to stem the flow of dismissals, they could only score at a modest rate thanks to another outstanding spell from leg-spinner Mitch Swepson who finished with 2/14 from four overs as Melbourne tallied up a humdrum 7/138. The Heat’s reply did not begin that positively either as they slumped to 2/26 in the fourth over, leaving their undermanned batting unit exposed.

However young opener Sam Heazlett (39 off 27 balls) kept the Heat on the front foot, before an unbroken stand of 74 off 57 balls between Alex Ross (46 off 40) and Joe Burns (42 off 32) saw Brisbane home with seven wickets in hand and 11 balls to spare. Burns’ knock was particularly impressive as he was 4 off 12 balls at one stage and had put his side under plenty of pressure, before a flurry of boundaries alleviated the tension and led his side to an ultimately comfortable victory.

The Heat have been boosted by the return of captain Brendon McCullum although star West Indian leg-spinner Samuel Badree is still unavailable, with left-arm quick Jack Lalor drafted into the squad.


Melbourne Renegades

If the Renegades are to join the Heat in the semi-finals they will need a victory here as well as other results to fall their way. On Monday they kept their season alive with a tight 6-run win over the Adelaide Strikers. Batting first, a breakthrough 85 off 53 balls from opener Marcus Harris looked set to drive the Renegades to another total in excess of 200.

However from 2/120 after 13 overs, they inexplicably lost 7/51 in the last seven overs to finish with a relatively unexceptional 9/171. Harris’ opening partner Aaron Finch (19 off 13 balls) broke a remarkable run of consistency, dismissed for under 20 for the first time in this season’s tournament. When the Strikers began their chase by jumping out to 0/46 off five overs it looked as if the Renegades’ BBL06 campaign may have been over, however Adelaide suffered a similar collapse to their opponents in the middle overs, losing 5/71 in nine overs as the Renegades regained the ascendency.

With the Strikers needing 43 from the final three overs, Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera overcame his demons from the previous match against the Hurricanes to finish with 4/25 from three overs and bowl the Renegades to a tense win. The Renegades other overseas star Sunil Narine was uncharacteristically expensive in conceding 40 from his four overs, however the struggles of James Pattinson are more familiar, with the speedster leaking another 31 off his three overs to continue his ordinary form.

As the Renegades embark on an unlikely tilt for a top four spot the one factor in their favour is that they boast a superior net run rate to all of their semi-final rivals so will not be looking to win by any particular margin.


Gabba

After a mammoth 724 runs over the first two games at the Gabba this season, the Heat and Scorchers played out a low-scoring affair last Wednesday with Perth comfortably defending 5/156 on a sluggish wicket that also played much slower than usual in the first ODI between Australia and Pakistan. Leg-spinner Swepson has made the most of all conditions at the Gabba in BBL06, taking five wickets at an average of 15.80 and economy rate of 6.58.


Key Stats

  • The Heat have won seven of their past nine matches.
  • However the Heat have won only two of their past seven matches at the Gabba.
  • Conversely the Renegades have only lost two of their past seven away games.
  • However the Renegades have not won consecutive matches since the 2013/14 season.

The Verdict

With both teams having plenty to play for, the market is having severe difficulty separating the sides with the odds extremely close.

After many wrote the Heat off in the pre-season, plenty more put a line through their chances once they lost Chris Lynn to national selection, and although their first performance sans Lynn did not inspire much confidence, Brisbane roared back by overturning one of the competition heavyweights not just without Lynn, but also shorn of skipper Brendon McCullum and their best bowler Samuel Badree.

Since Badree’s injury, fellow leg-spinner Mitch Swepson has taken his game to another level, emerging as one of the premium slower bowlers in the competition. Similarly, the suspension of McCullum presented an opportunity to 21-year-old Sam Heazlett whose knock against the Stars could put some pressure on their more established batsmen.

Furthermore, while Lynn and McCullum have hogged the limelight, the likes of Alex Ross and Joe Burns have both quietly gone about their business, with the middle-order men producing impressive numbers of late. Although they may not be quite as desperate as their opponents, the prospect of a home final should provide plenty of incentive for the hosts and I tend to think they should be a shorter price here.

For the Renegades it is simple – they need a win to have any chance of taking part in the semi-finals and fulfilling their own pre-tournament expectations, which, quite unlike the Heat’s, were generally quite lofty. It’s hard to put a finger on where it all went wrong for the Renegades, although it’s fair to say they have not been helped by losing a series of close matches, beaten in the final over no less than three times this season.

Their batting has promised much but only sporadically delivered, with a worrying habit of falling away in the middle overs returning against the Strikers. However on the positive side, the likes of Marcus Harris and Tom Cooper have started to dilute the over-reliance on Aaron Finch and Cameron White, although they will need to continue to contribute if the Renegades are to not just reach the semi-finals, but make any sort of impression there.

On paper the Renegades have one of the better bowling attacks in the competition, although worryingly the influence of veteran Brad Hogg appears to be waning, taking only two wickets in his past four matches at an average of 69.00 and economy rate of 8.63.

A strong record away from Docklands Stadium suggests the Renegades are a big chance here, but I cannot go past the fact that, remarkably, they have not won successive games for three years, underscoring their habitual inconsistency. Up against one of the in-form sides of the competition boosted by the return of their talismanic skipper, it’s hard to overlook the claims of the Heat here so I’m more than happy to be siding with the hosts in this one.


Betting Strategy

 BACK – Brisbane Heat at 1.90 or bigger for 2 units


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