Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades
Monday, 11 January 19:40 EST
The Sydney Thunder will be looking to halt an alarming slide when they welcome the Melbourne Renegades to Spotless Stadium on Monday night.
The Thunder raced to the top of the ladder just before Christmas with three wins to start the season before dropping their next three games to leave themselves on the edge of the top four. The home side will be boosted by the inclusion of captain Mike Hussey who missed the last match against the Perth Scorchers due to injury, while Australian international Usman Khawaja will play his first game since a stunning century against the Melbourne Stars. However it is the Thunder’s bowling attack which has struggled most in their three defeats, conceding big totals to the Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes as well as failing to defend 186 against the Brisbane Heat.
The Renegades need a win to keep their faint finals hopes alive, having won only two of their six encounters this season. On Saturday they failed to adjust without Australian representatives Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade, compiling a middling total of 6/155 against the Melbourne Stars who had few issues overhauling the target. Finch and Wade will still be missing on Monday but the Renegades’ struggling bowling attack will be boosted by the inclusion of Nathan Rimmington who missed the Melbourne derby with a groin injury. The visitors will again rely heavily on West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who top-scored against the Stars then looked the most threatening option with the ball.
Spotless Stadium has generally looked much better for batting this season with first innings scores of 4/158 and 5/175 either side of Adelaide’s 9/117 which was more due to poor batting and excellent bowling than the conditions.
Despite three consecutive losses the Thunder are pronounced favourites at 1.66 with the Renegades priced at 2.45 to keep their season alive in early markets. Instinctively the odds for the hosts seem too short, however we can’t have sufficient faith in the visitors bowling attack, nor their batting without Finch and Wade, to take up an early position.
When he’s not getting into trouble for post-innings interviews, Renegades opener Chris Gayle is renowned as one the most damaging batsmen in world cricket, however he does generally take his time to get going. This season the Renegades have only scored more than six runs off the first over just twice out of six games, and in their last match they scored only three with Gayle opening alongside the more sedate Tom Cooper.
With the ball, the Thunder have conceded more than six in three games out of six, but when Andre Russell has bowled the first over it has occurred just once in four occasions, and Russell has been the main go-to option for captain Hussey, bowling the first over in four out of the last five matches.
With all that in mind I’m happy to back Russell to keep his West Indian counterpart Gayle quiet in the first over and concede six or less at around 1.80 or bigger.