The Melbourne Renegades will be looking to make it two from two when they host the Perth Scorchers at Docklands Stadium on Thursday night.
The Renegades got their season off to a winning start when they comfortably accounted for the Sydney Thunder at home a week ago. Batting first the Renegades powered their way to 7/179, before rolling the defending champions for just 130 to secure a resounding 49-run win. Captain Aaron Finch led from the front with a typically brutish 63 from 37 balls to set the hosts on their path, before a composed 38 off 32 from Callum Ferguson and breezy 24 off 16 from all-rounder Dwayne Bravo provided the finishing touches.
The Renegades never looked in trouble from the moment part-time off-spinner Tom Cooper picked up a wicket from the first ball of the chase, with star trio Sunil Narine, Brad Hogg and Bravo picking up two wickets each to consign the Thunder to a heavy defeat. However it wasn’t a perfect performance from the Renegades with Cameron White (1 off 4 balls) continuing his uninspiring record at Docklands Stadium, while the normally reliable Nathan Rimmington was taken for 10 off his solitary over.
The Renegades will also have to overcome a remarkable stretch of results against Perth, having never beaten the Scorchers from five attempts. In order to do that they have made one minor change to their squad with Cameron Stevenson drafted in for Xavier Doherty, although it is expected that their starting XI will be unchanged.
The Scorchers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Sydney Sixers at the SCG, having been restricted to just 8/130 after winning the toss and electing to bat. Despite boasting a batting line-up that saw talented all-rounder Ashton Agar come in as low as number nine, none of the Scorchers’ batsmen could get going with Mitchell Marsh’s unbeaten 31 off 29 balls the top-score, followed closely by wicket-keeper Sam Whiteman who showed glimpses of brilliance in his 16-ball knock of 28. After being pushed down to number seven for the second consecutive match, skipper Adam Voges recorded a successive single-figure return and will hope to be restored to the top of the order against the Renegades.
Despite a valiant effort from Andrew Tye (3/15 off four overs), Perth did not cause the Sixers too much trouble in overhauling the modest target. Although the pitch favoured the slower bowlers, Perth’s frontline spinner Agar could only return the unflattering figures of 0/34 off four overs, making it just five wickets in his last ten BBL matches.
With Docklands another surface that traditionally favours the tweakers, it comes as a surprise that leg-spinner James Muirhead has been omitted from Perth’s squad, however the Scorchers do welcome back firebrand Mitchell Johnson who was rested against the Sixers.
The Docklands pitch looked favourable for batsmen in the match last week, although it was noticeable that spinners picked up just as many wickets as the quicks despite bowling three less overs. The twirlers also conceded just seven runs an over so look set to play a key role in this fixture.
- The Renegades have never beaten the Scorchers from five attempts.
- The Renegades have won three of their past four matches when batting second.
- The Scorchers have not lost consecutive away games since the 2013/14 season.
- Since the start of last season, spinners have taken only 16% of the Scorchers’ wickets.
- Aaron Finch has top-scored for the Renegades in four of his past six matches.
The Renegades have been installed as marginal favourites with the market not completely writing off Perth despite their ordinary performance against the Sixers on Tuesday.
The hosts looked promising whilst brushing aside the Thunder in their opening encounter and finally look to have compiled a bowling attack that suits the conditions at their home ground. I’m still not completely convinced on their batting, however they boast enough power to trouble a Scorchers attack missing a host of their quicks on whom they have been overly reliant in the past.
Conversely the Scorchers, despite their meagre total against the Sixers, still possess one of the most prolific and deep batting line-ups in the competition, however they will face a stern test against the likes of Narine and Hogg after they showed some fallibility against the slower bowlers at the SCG. It is in this department where the Scorchers seem inadequate, as historically they have leaned on their pace battery for penetration, leaving the spinners such as Agar will little to do.
All up I fancy the Renegades are deserving of their favouritism, however given their abominable record against the Scorchers and the fact the visitors haven’t dropped consecutive away games for three years, I can’t quite bring myself to back Finch’s side in this one.
Speaking of Finch, his record in this competition is almost without peer, scoring 1270 runs at an average of 43.79 over the six seasons of the BBL. Last season Finch topped the run charts for the Renegades, despite playing only five games, striking three half-centuries from those five matches. After top-scoring in the Renegades’ opening match with 63, the skipper has now top-scored in four of his past six BBL games. Furthermore Finch’s chief competition Cameron White has scored only 51 runs from his last five innings at Docklands so I’m willing to side with the Renegades skipper and back him to top-score again here.
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