Melbourne Renegades v Melbourne Stars
Saturday January 9, 7:10pm
The Melbourne Renegades will be looking for revenge when they take on cross-town rivals the Stars at Docklands Stadium on Saturday.
The Chris Gayle affair overshadowed a dominant display by the Renegades last Monday against Hobart, chasing down the Hurricanes’ mediocre 5/140 in just 14 overs. It was the Renegades first win since their opening match against the Brisbane Heat and the first time this season that their bowling attack kept the oppositions’ scoring rate under 8.5 runs an over. However their explosive batting unit will be rocked by the loss of Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade to the Australian ODI squad, placing more pressure on the controversial Gayle and his fellow West Indian Dwayne Bravo. With two wins from five games the derby shapes as a must-win prospect for the Renegades if they are to remain in contention for the top four.
The Stars are sitting slightly more comfortably with three victories from their five matches, most recently brushing aside the Hurricanes to make it three wins on the bounce. However they too will be heavily affected by national representation, losing key all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner as well as death-bowling specialist Scott Boland. After a poor opening display against Adelaide, Boland has averaged 17.5 with the ball at an economy rate of just 6.36. Ben Hilfenhaus shapes as his replacement with Rob Quiney and Evan Gulbis in the frame to come in for Maxwell and Faulkner. Much responsibility will fall on the English pair of Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen to provide runs at the top of the order, in particular Wright who is coming off scores of 51 and 109.
In the two matches played at Docklands in this year’s competition the Renegades failed to defend scores of 172 and 170, a scenario that was replicated in their earlier derby clash at the MCG with the Stars chasing down 161 on that occasion. Docklands has proved a particularly fruitful venue for openers this year with six out of eight innings by opening batsmen resulting in a score in excess of 40.
The Stars are favourites to claim their sixth consecutive derby win at 1.81, with the home side 2.22 outsiders. With both teams impacted heavily by team changes I’d prefer to wait and see how each side adjusts without key personnel before getting involved with the match odds.
However we can take advantage of the enforced changes in a different market. As mentioned Luke Wright has recovered from an average start in the competition to post consecutive scores in excess of 50, including an unbeaten century against Saturday’s opponents. Wright top-scored for the Stars twice last season and has top-scored in his last two innings against the Renegades. With openers having such an impressive record at the ground, Wright in stellar form and there being less competition within the side, I see this as an ideal time to back Wright to top-score for a third consecutive time against the Renegades at around 4.00 or bigger.