A key battle for a place in the top four will take place on Monday night at the SCG when the Sydney Sixers host the Melbourne Renegades.
The Sixers will be hoping to arrest their sequence of win-loss-win-loss by securing consecutive victories for the first time since their second and third games of last season. Most recently they handed the Brisbane Heat their only defeat of BBL06 so far, successfully chasing down the Heat’s 6/186 at the Gabba. After an uncharacteristically expensive display in the prior match against the Adelaide Strikers, wily spinner Johan Botha was back to his parsimonious best, claiming 2/24 from his four overs. Although not as economical, fellow all-rounder Sean Abbott backed up his five-wicket haul against the Strikers with a further three scalps against the Heat, finishing with 3/38 off his four.
The Sixers’ chase was driven by an outstanding innings from opener Daniel Hughes who struck 85 from 55 deliveries, pacing his knock to perfection and not allowing the run rate to get out of hand. Hughes received crucial support from veteran custodian Brad Haddin, who enjoyed a return to form with brisk 32 off just 13 balls, while talented left-hander Nic Maddinson also showed some promising signs in his innings of 24 off 15 balls. English imports Jason Roy and Sam Billings signed off in unfortunate fashion, managing only 12 off 11 balls between them. Roy and Billings have left to join the England ODI squad, replaced by familiar opener Michael Lumb and explosive Kiwi all-rounder Colin Munro. Unfortunately Munro will not be available in time for this crucial clash due to commitments with the New Zealand national team, however Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon and Jackson Bird all return from local test duties.
The Renegades’ campaign took a turn for the worse when they suffered a convincing 46-run loss to city rivals the Melbourne Stars on Saturday night. Winning the toss and electing to field, the Renegades were under the pump early as the Stars raced to 1/50 off five overs and this time there was no let up from their middle and lower-order, blasting their way to a colossal 7/200 from their full 20 overs. James Pattinson made an encouraging return from injury for the Renegades, picking up three wickets although conceding 44 off four overs in the process. Star off-spinner Sunil Narine was also unexpectedly costly, leaking 37 from his full allotment while claiming just the one wicket.
After a bright opening partnership of 30 in three overs between Narine (12 off 10 balls) and captain Aaron Finch (27 off 13 balls), the Renegades’ pursuit fell away badly, losing 8/74 in 11 overs to effectively end their chances of an unlikely win. Some late-order hitting from Pattinson (12 off 10 balls) and fellow quick Chris Tremain (27 off 17 balls) added some respectability to the scoreboard and also ensured that their net run rate did not take a significant hit.
The Renegades have finally lost patience with left-hander Marcus Harris who is averaging only 15.50 at a strike-rate of 100 in BBL06, omitting him in favour of the more aggressive Tom Beaton. The visitors will also be boosted by the inclusion of powerful Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera, who replaces burly journeyman Trent Lawford.
Sydney Cricket Ground
The two matches so far at the SCG in BBL06 produced varied results with the Sixers not getting close to the Hurricanes’ 6/200, before comfortably running down the Scorchers’ 8/130. The Renegades’ spin twins should enjoy conditions at the SCG with spinners averaging 21.50 at an economy rate of 6.94 in Sydney this season.
- The Sixers have won their last three matches against the Renegades.
- The Sixers have won only one of their past five games at the SCG.
- Conversely the Renegades have won four of their past five away games.
- Aaron Finch and Cameron White have scored 44% of the Renegades’ total runs this season.
The punters are expecting a tight affair with very little between the odds on these two sides.
The Sixers’ endeavour to obtain back-to-back victories has been hampered by the loss of their two English stars, although while Lumb might not possess the power of countryman Roy, he does have a history of success in this tournament. Importantly the Sixers’ bowling stocks have been bolstered by the inclusion of test stars Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon and Jackson Bird, with the spin pair in particular likely to make a significant difference at the SCG. A strong recent record over the Renegades also adds credence to their chances, although given their haphazard form throughout the tournament I’d be wanting a bigger price on the hosts before I got involved.
The Renegades, meanwhile, saved their most abject performance for last Saturday’s derby and all of a sudden there appear to be plenty of holes in their line-up, not least across the batting unit which has been too reliant on the experienced duo of Finch and White. However the visitors have made moves to address some of their deficiencies, with the pair of Beaton and Thisara adding some much needed muscle to the middle-order, while the Sri Lankan all-rounder also provides an experienced seam option to an attack which has leant heavily on spinners Narine and Hogg. The Renegades’ spin twins should also find conditions at the SCG to their liking and with a superior record away from home I wouldn’t want to be opposing the Renegades here, but nor could I back them after their most recent display.
That leaves us to canvass a couple of side markets to uncover some value.
Half-centuries have not been easy to come by for either of these batting line-ups, with only two players from each side raising the bat this season. For the Sixers, Daniel Hughes has notched two fifties and captain Moises Henriques one, while for the Renegades the familiar pair of Aaron Finch and Cameron White have managed one each. That means that the Sixers’ batsmen are averaging 0.6 fifties per match, and the Renegades 0.5 per match.
Last season the Sixers has similar troubles, with only five half-centuries in eight matches and while the Renegades had eight, six came from Finch and White. Moreover these two sides boast two of the strongest bowling attacks in the competition, as evidenced by the fact their run rates with the ball (8.27 for the Sixers & 8.12 for the Renegades) are both below the tournament average (8.44) and in fact only bettered by the Scorchers (7.88). So I’m willing to wager that the batmen will find it difficult to build an innings in this one and will therefore back no fifty to be scored in the match.
Additionally there has been a noticeable trend at the top of the order for the Renegades with their first wicket perishing in the same manner in all four matches – caught. Makeshift opener Sunil Narine has been out caught in all three of his dismissals, while skipper Aaron Finch has been out caught on three out of four occasions, adding to last season when he was caught in all five innings’ he played. The Sixers bowlers are also adept at inducing a caught dismissal, claiming the first wicket in that manner in all five of their fixtures so far, so I’ll also be backing the Renegades’ first dismissal to be caught in this one
BACK – Fifty Scored? No at $4.25 or better for 1 unit.
BACK – Melbourne Renegades First Dismissal Caught at $1.50 or better for 2 units.