Melbourne Renegades v Sydney Sixers
Wednesday December 23, 7:10pm
The final BBL match before the brief Christmas break sees the Melbourne Renegades host the Sydney Sixers at Docklands Stadium.
The Renegades overcame the Brisbane Heat in their opening game despite conceding 5/180, with their explosive batting line-up making up for their bowlers shortcomings. After a poor 2014/15 BBL campaign, captain Aaron Finch will be hoping that his dynamic 65 against the Heat will prove a springboard to a more fruitful tournament this time around. Young debutant Guy Walker endured a tough time in Brisbane, conceding a whopping 47 off his three overs and may come under pressure for his spot from spinners Matt Short and Nathan Hauritz who could be better suited to the Docklands surface.
The Sixers bounced back swiftly from an opening defeat to the Sydney Thunder by trouncing the Hobart Hurricanes at the SCG on Sunday. Veteran wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin found some form with a stunning 72 while Jordan Silk showed off his finishing skills with a breezy 41 off 25 balls. The Sixers’ spin trio of Nathan Lyon, Johan Botha and Steve O’Keefe killed off Hobart’s run-chase before it had started but may face a tougher test against the likes of Finch, Chris Gayle, Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo. Lyon will also likely be unavailable due to international commitments, although the Sixers may look to replace him with a batsman such as Ryan Carters or Nick Larkin.
Last season Docklands Stadium produced a volatile range of first innings scores with none landing between 120 and 165. Traditionally the pitch provides some assistance to the spinners who last season averaged 18.43 at an economy rate of just 5.86 so look to get with the slower bowlers where possible.
The home side are favourites for this one at 1.77 with the visiting Sixers outsiders at 2.28 which is certainly an attractive price. Provided the Docklands pitch plays as it has done over the last couple of seasons then the spin bowlers may well decide the victor here and it is the Sydney side who, despite the expected absence of Lyon, have the greater quality in Botha and O’Keefe compared to the Renegades’ Xavier Doherty who will likely be complemented by either Short or Hauritz as well as part-timer Gayle.
The Sixers’ batting may look light in comparison to the home side but on a pitch that may not be so easy for the star-studded Renegades top-order I’m happy to put my faith in the visitors’ clearly superior bowling attack.