The Melbourne Renegades return to Docklands Stadium where they take on the Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday night.
The Renegades semi-final hopes suffered a blow when they were edged by the Sydney Sixers on Monday night by six wickets at the SCG. Winning just their second toss of the tournament, the Renegades opted to bat first and got off to a promising start, racing to 2/52 off five overs. However the dismissal of middle-order mainstay Tom Cooper (39 off 24 balls) slowed the run rate considerably, and while captain Aaron Finch (57 off 44 balls) did his best to pilot the Renegades towards a match-winning total, they required a late flurry from Callum Ferguson (39 off 25 balls) to reach their final score of 6/170.
During the chase, the Renegades couldn’t quite apply enough pressure to trouble the Sixers, with the required run rate only reaching nine in the final over, as the Sydney side ultimately prevailed with three balls to spare. Veteran chinaman Brad Hogg had a rare off night, conceding 32 off his four overs without taking a wicket, however it was injury-plagued paceman James Pattinson who really struggled with his radar, as his 2.3 overs were taken for a whopping 36.
In more encouraging news for the Renegades, Sri Lankan all-rounder showcased his skill and variety in capturing 2/26 off four. The Renegades have made two changes to their squad for Thursday with Marcus Harris and Nathan Rimmington returning in place of Tom Beaton and Chris Tremain.
The Hurricanes will be looking to avoid a third-consecutive loss after successive defeats at the hands of the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder. Against the Thunder they got off a nightmare start, reduced to 2/10 halfway through the second over after being sent in to bat. Brought in for struggling international signing Kumar Sangakkara, promising youngster Ben McDermott steadied the ship with 31 off 21 balls, however his dismissal precipitated a period of eight overs where the Hurricanes could manage only 44.
Luckily for Hobart, deposed Australian international George Bailey found his range in the final overs, blasting 30 off his last 15 balls to finish with 69 off 54 and lift the Hurricanes to a competitive 8/161.
Sadly for Hobart, their innings with the ball started just as well as it did with the bat, with the Thunder racing to 62 without loss shortly after the powerplay. It was English enforcer Stuart Broad (1/23 off four overs) who made the breakthrough, however it did little to derail the Thunder’s charge as they sauntered to the target with six wickets in hand and 19 balls remaining.
Veteran tearaway Shaun Tait suffered another humiliating evening, with his two overs costing 32, while left-arm orthodox spinner Clive Rose did not fare much better as his two overs were taken for 22. Both Tait and Rose have paid the price for their performances with the duo omitted from the squad to face the Renegades in favour of pacemen Sam Rainbird and Jake Reed.
The side batting first has won two out of three matches at Docklands this season, with the sole victory for the side batting second coming from a miraculous last-ball six. Seasoned batsman Tom Cooper has struggled for runs at Docklands, scoring just 13 in three innings’ in BBL06 and has now been dismissed in single-figures in his past five innings’ there.
- The Renegades have won their past four matches against the Hurricanes.
- However the Renegades have won only one of their past eight matches at Docklands Stadium.
- The Hurricanes have won only two of their past ten matches.
- Additionally the Hurricanes have won only one of their past seven away games.
- The Renegades have outscored their opponents for the first wicket in four out of five matches this season.
The Renegades are expected to return to the winner’s circle, with the market establishing the hosts as clear favourites over the struggling Hurricanes.
Tipped by many to claim their first ever BBL title in the pre-season, the Renegades have not quite managed to meet expectations and face the very serious threat of missing the top four for a fourth consecutive year. Stretching back to last season, the Renegades have not tasted victory without either Aaron Finch or Cameron White managing a half-century, which highlights their reliance on the experienced pair not just to contribute, but to score heavily.
Their bowling attack has been rejuvenated by new additions Narine, Hogg and Thisara, however their local quicks such as Tremain, Rimmington and now Pattinson have regularly undone the good work of their more proficient counterparts. With more to play for than their battling opponents they really should get the two points here, but I’m wary of backing the hosts at such a short price.
Part of my reluctance to side with the Renegades comes from the Hurricanes’ ability to throw in an unexpectedly dazzling performance, which they have managed twice this season from six starts. However more often than not Hobart have looked like the outsiders they were envisioned to be, particularly in the field where they have conceded runs at 8.92 an over, whilst using nine different bowlers – a figure which could grow to 11 if Rainbird and Reed both make the starting side on Thursday.
Their batting is more consistent, however much in the same way that the Renegades have leant heavily on Finch and White, the Hurricanes have struggled when the opening pair of Tim Paine and Darcy Short have failed to fire. In essence, while I’m hesitant to oppose the visitors I would still want a more significant price to be backing one of their sporadic performances to come to fruition.
So with no action on the match odds, we turn our attention to the way in which each team starts their innings.
As mentioned, both of Hobart’s wins have been underpinned by a strong performance from their openers who put on 81 and 105 in both of their victories in BBL06. However they have been extremely hit-and-miss with their other four opening partnerships only garnering 6, 14, 11 and 4, giving them a tournament median of just 12.5.
Conversely the Renegades have been super-consistent at the top of the order despite carrying a make-shift opener in Sunil Narine. The Renegades’ first wicket has only failed to reach 30 once, recording a healthy median of 38. The Renegades have also been highly effective with the ball in the opening overs, with the opposition only managing a median opening partnership of 10 which has resulted in the Renegades outscoring their opponents for the first wicket in four out of five matches.
The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have struggled to take early wickets, with their opponents recording a median opening partnership of 34.5, clearing 20 on all but one occasion. This has resulted in them outpointing their opposition for the first wicket just three times in six matches. Based on that data I’m willing to side with the consistency of the Renegades’ at the commencement of the innings over the volatility of the Hurricanes, and back the home side to again record the highest opening partnership.
BACK – Melbourne Renegades Highest Opening Partnership at 1.85 or bigger for 2 units.