After a heartbreaking last-ball defeat to the Sydney Thunder, the Melbourne Stars will be hoping to get some revenge on city rivals the Melbourne Renegades in the season’s second Derby at Docklands Stadium on Saturday night.
The Renegades’ most recent match was the earlier Derby encounter in which they snuck home against the Stars by seven runs in a rain-affected affair at the MCG. Batting first, the Renegades sprung a surprise by opening the batting with spinner Sunil Narine. The move paid off as Narine spanked an entertaining 21 from 13 balls, combining with captain Aaron Finch (30 from 24 balls) in a breezy opening stand of 38 off 22.
The Stars then managed to put the skids on the Renegades through the middle of the innings, before a 72-run partnership between veterans Cameron White (64 not out off 43 balls) and Tom Cooper (36 off 25 balls) lifted them to a testing 4/171. With rain reducing the chase to 159 off 18 overs, the Renegades managed to keep the Stars at an arm’s length for the majority of the innings, before choking their middle-order and leaving the tail with too much to do. Narine backed up his effort with the bat with another tight spell (0/26 off four overs), however it was fellow spinner Brad Hogg who did most of the damage, picking up 3/22 off his four overs.
Brought in for the injured Dwayne Bravo, journeyman Trent Lawford experienced a more difficult evening, with his four overs taken for 47. Lawford is expected to be omitted in favour of new international signing Thisara Perera, while the Renegades have received a further boost with paceman James Pattinson fit again following a hamstring injury.
The Stars will still be wondering how they contrived to lose their last game against the previously winless Thunder, having looked well in control for the bulk of the match. Batting first, the Stars got off a positive start, racing to 1/62 off six overs, then consolidating to 2/90 off ten overs.
However once the top-order trio of Glenn Maxwell (34 off 22), Luke Wright (25 off 12) and Kevin Pietersen (60 off 37) all perished, the Stars’ middle and lower-order failed to keep up the momentum, scoring just 20 off the last five overs despite having six wickets in hand, to finish with 8/166 when a total around 190 looked more than feasible.
Nevertheless, the Stars’ bowlers made early inroads and when the Thunder were left with 72 to get off the last six overs it looked too tall a task, until a stunning riposte from Eoin Morgan got the Thunder over the line, clinching the win with a last-ball six off Ben Hilfenhaus.
After starting the night in excellent fashion, Hilfenhaus finished with the unflattering figures of 2/39 off four overs and will still be having nightmares after failing to defend 15 from the final over. In better news for the Stars, leg-spinner Adam Zampa enjoyed a return to form, picking up 1/19 from his full allotment. In order to get their campaign back on track, the Stars have brought Rob Quiney back into their squad in place of Seb Gotch.
The pitch appeared to have slowed a touch in the last match at Docklands where the Scorchers barely managed to chase down the Renegades 8/148. Spin has been far more effective than pace at Docklands this season with spinners averaging 19.25 at an economy rate of 7.00, in comparison to pace bowlers who are averaging 27.08 at an economy rate of 7.79.
- The Renegades have won only one of their past seven matches at Docklands Stadium.
- However the Renegades are the only side to boast four bowlers with an economy rate of 6.50 or better in BBL06.
- The Stars have won four of their past five away games.
- However in the Stars’ last five games, Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen have contributed 44% of their total runs.
Despite their patchy form, the Stars are favoured to make amends for their last Derby loss with the Renegades considered marginal outsiders.
It’s fair to say that things have not gone as expected for the Stars, with an unconvincing win over the unfancied Hobart Hurricanes followed up with consecutive losses as acute favourites against the Renegades and Thunder.
Granted they did get themselves into match-winning positions in both of those games so an optimist may argue they could easily have started the season with three straight wins, although when you consider that they were forced to chase down 188 against the Hurricanes it could just as easily have been three straight losses.
The main issue for the Stars is that their bowling has been surprisingly erratic – leaking runs at nearly nine an over – while their batting is extremely top-heavy, with an unhealthy reliance on their overseas pair of Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen.
The Renegades themselves are a fairly unbalanced outfit, with the top-order looking far more fluent than the middle-order, while their spinners are arguably twice as effective as their quicks.
That has been borne out by the fact that they have scored at 8.67 runs an over in the powerplay, but only 7.43 an over for the rest of the innings, while in regards to their bowling their slower bowlers have taken double the amount of wickets as their pacemen at a far superior average and economy rate.
Still, the Renegades have been more adaptable and importantly have won the big moments more often than their cross-town rivals which is why they sit on two wins and their opponents on two losses.
As a general strategy I would suggest backing each side at the beginning of their innings with the bat, before trading out after the powerplay to exploit both team’s reliance on their top-order. However without knowing the result of the toss we can assess each team’s chances at face value and as things stand I believe the home side look a touch big.
So far the Renegades have comfortably accounted for the Thunder, came within a whisker of defeating the table-topping Scorchers and then held off Saturday’s opponents in another tight finish, so their form-line is relatively strong. Furthermore they are boosted by the inclusions of Pattinson and Thisara, both of which should bolster their faltering pace attack.
The Stars, meanwhile, have misfired against seemingly inferior opponents and unlike their hosts do not really have the option of any significant reinforcements to rectify their distinct weaknesses. They do already boast one of the stronger squads in the competition and their consistency over a number of seasons – they are yet to miss the top four in any edition of the BBL – as well as the presence of premium players such as Maxwell, Pietersen and Zampa is enough to not only keep their odds short but has also convinced me against going all in on the Renegades in this one.
So while I will happily begin by backing the Renegades at starting price, I would suggest looking for the optimal point at which to trade out as the Stars still possess enough firepower to pull back from a precarious positon and continue the home side’s poor record at Docklands.
BACK-TO-LAY – Melbourne Renegades at 2.10 or bigger for 1 unit (trade out at 1.50 or better).