Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers
Monday January 18, 7:40pm
The final match of the group stages pits first placed Adelaide Strikers away to the Melbourne Renegades at Docklands Stadium.
For the Renegades the equation is simple – win by 38 runs or inside 15.3 overs and they will qualify for their first finals series since the 2012-13 season. After a slow start to the competition the Renegades have won two of their past three fixtures, most recently accounting for the Sydney Thunder who currently sit ahead of them in fourth spot. Captain Cameron White lead a measured chase against the Thunder, with his 61 off 46 balls allowing the Renegades to comfortably overhaul the Thunder’s 5/173. Unfortunately for the Renegades, Australian paceman James Pattinson has been ordered to rest so won’t be available for this must-win clash.
For the second consecutive season the Strikers have finished atop the ladder, this time with a game to spare. Adelaide have lost only one match in this year’s tournament, however last Wednesday they came desperately close to dropping a second after needing a last-ball six from Jake Lehmann to dramatically pip the Hobart Hurricanes. The Strikers have decided not to risk international signing Mahela Jayawardene who will remain on the sidelines with a quadriceps injury, giving another opportunity to the volatile Jono Dean. With their bowling stocks devoid of Kane Richardson and Billy Stanlake, coach Jason Gillespie would have been buoyed by the promising debut of 21-year-old quick Greg West who claimed 2/24 against Hobart.
Dockland has definitely favoured the side batting second who this season have made a combined 9/501 off 55.3 overs, winning all three matches. West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has enjoyed batting on his new home ground, scoring 118 runs at a strike-rate of 155 without being dismissed.
Despite their lofty position the visiting Strikers are 2.10 outsiders with the Renegades 1.91 favourites in early markets to claim this do-or-die clash. On first glance it appears as if those odds are the wrong way around and I certainly couldn’t be backing the Renegades at odds-on, although given that they have so much to play for (and Adelaide so little) I’m also inclined not to oppose the home side either.
Where I think the Renegades could have a distinct advantage is during the first six overs. This season the Renegades have averaged 49 with the bat inside the powerplay, while the Strikers have conceded an average of 48. Although the Renegades bowling attack has struggled throughout the competition they have generally kept things tight early on, conceding an average of 41 in the first six overs where the Strikers have averaged 44 with the bat. Moreover the Renegades’ survival in the competition is dependent on winning by a significant margin so Chris Gayle and co are more likely to be aggressive from the onset.
On the other hand, while Strikers opening batsman Tim Ludeman struck a second consecutive half-century against the Hurricanes, he looked woefully out of form and failed to score at more than a run-a-ball. All of this suggests that while the Renegades may not get the win they need to progress to the finals they should be ahead of the game after six overs and I’m willing to back that scenario.