We are halfway through the round robin stage of BBL02 and the Renegades remain outright leaders as the only unbeaten team thus far. Although it is looking like a three horse race at this stage with the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Stars the only other franchises producing consistent performances. Hobart appear to be the best of the rest and have a good run home with their final three matches all home at Blundstone Arena. A lot can change quickly in T20 cricket, but there would have to be a majority of surprise results to not see the Semi Finals comprise Adelaide, both Melbourne sides and Hobart.
At the other end of the table, the two Sydney sides have been very disappointing. There wasn’t much expected of the Sydney Thunder, despite the presence of Chris Gayle. The Sixers have certainly been the under achievers of the tournament. The high expectations that come from winning both the inaugural Big Bash League and Champions League have been unrealistic considering a weakened batting line up that has lost Ben Rohrer, Peter Nevill, Shane Watson and pre-tournament recruit Umar Akmal, while also missing the services of Nic Maddinson and Michael Lumb. The Sixers will most likely need to win six consecutive matches to defend their title.
Sydney Sixers ($2.05) vs Hobart Hurricanes ($1.74) at the SCG, Wednesday December 26th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)
All encounters level at 1-1.
Previous Encounter (January 22nd, 2012. BBL01 Semi Final)
Sydney Sixers 6/153 from 20 overs (Maddinson 68, O’Keefe 30, Laughlin 1/20)
Hobart Hurricanes 7/146 from 20 overs (Jaques 63, Naved-ul-Hasan 30no, Lee 2/22, Smith 2/22)
Sydney won by 7 runs.
It’s a big game for the Sydney Sixers as a loss could mean curtains for their Championship defence. While the batting has struggled with only Steve Smith and Brad Haddin producing consistent scores, the bowling has been atrocious. The Sixers bowlers only have 14 wickets between them with Moran and Feldman leading with 3 wickets a piece. Big name recruit Sunil Narine remains wicketless while Brett Lee looks flat after a long break out of the game. For a franchise that boasts bowling as its strength, the current returns are nothing short of horrendous.
A nice confidence boosting win against the lowly Thunder will have Hobart up and about. The return to form of Ricky Ponting makes the batting look far more threatening, especially if Paine continues his solid anchoring role. Birt is due for runs having copped a dirty decision against the Thunder. He could destroy a Sixers bowling attack clearly low on confidence.
Sydney will be hoping Nic Maddinson can return from injury, but they’ll need more than that to change recent fortunes.
Prediction: Hobart Hurricanes by 20 runs/ 7 wickets.
Adelaide Strikers ($1.98) vs Melbourne Stars ($1.80) at the Adelaide Oval, Thursday December 27th.
Starting Time: 19:30 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (19th January, 2012)
Adelaide Strikers all out 125 from 19.3 overs (Ferguson 41, Klinger 25, McKay 3/17, Faulkner 2/21, Bird 2/26, Hussey 2/30)
Melbourne Stars 4/129 from 18.5 overs (Hussey 41no, While 28, Franklin 2/22)
Melbourne won by 6 wickets.
When Phil Hughes was called up for national duties, there were large question marks as to who would be able to partner Michael Klinger at the top of the order. Former Carlton wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman was given the opportunity and he hasn’t looked back. He is now 2nd in the league for runs scored with 135 and striking at 148.35. Michael Klinger isn’t too far behind in 3rd at 133 and Nathan Reardon 8th with 109, suggesting that the batting is a greater strength than many realised. The return to form and pace of Shaun Tait is forming an exciting partnership with up and coming fiery spearhead Kane Richardson. The fast and full lengths have been impossible to get away and require innovation to be scored off.
The Stars just keep getting the job done. Apart from the Malinga 6/7 and Maxwell 82, there haven’t been any outstanding performances. Each player seems to know their role and ensure they do it well.
This is a genuine blockbuster game that will have a large say to final table standings and home Semi Finals. Extremely hard to split, leaning slightly toward the Stars due to the deeper batting.
Prediction: Stars by 5 runs/ 3 wickets.
Sydney Thunder ($1.98) vs Brisbane Heat ($1.80) at ANZ Stadium, Friday December 28th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (January 17th, 2012)
Brisbane Heat 4/195 from 20 overs (Christian 75, Lynn 37no, Forrest 33, Robinson 25, Bills 2/44)
Sydney Thunder 6/104 from 20 overs (Khawaja 37, Day 29no, Abbott 22no, McDermott 2/25)
Brisbane won by 91 runs
This isn’t the prettiest game on paper, but Brisbane is offering quite good value at $1.80. They could have easily had an extra one or two wins to their tally and pushed the Renegades at Etihad Stadium to the last over. So the form still isn’t as bad as it reads. The batting is holding up with a majority of the top 6 averaging over 22 and striking at acceptable rates. But the bowling has been a major disappointment having been mooted as one of the strongest pre-tournament. 15 wickets combined from the bowlers in 4 games will never win many games. The seam based game plan has become predictable with only 6 overs of spin bowled all tournament and that’s with Nathan Hauritz playing all four games. There aren’t many successful T20 teams around the world that are completely ignorant to benefits of spin bowling in this format. It’s time to get more overs into Hauritz.
The Sydney Thunder looks a long way off the rest of the competition. Gayle was going to win games off his own bat but has so far been a major flop, averaging just 11 and striking at an ugly 71.73 per 100 balls. There just doesn’t appear to be a way they will win a game unless he can turn his form around.
I expect Brisbane to win convincingly, so jump on board the $1.80 odds quickly.
Prediction: Brisbane by 40 runs/8 wickets.
Perth Scorchers ($2.00) vs Melbourne Renegades ($1.78) at the WACA, Saturday December 29th.
Starting Time: 18:00 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (22 December, 2011)
Melbourne Renegades 3/188 from 20 overs (McDonald 50, Finch 49, Maxwell 31, Razzaq 27no, Reardon 22no)
Perth Scorchers 2/192 from 19.2 overs (Marsh 99no, Gibbs 57)
Perth won by 8 wickets.
This is an interesting game as it is the first non short term drop in wicket that the Renegades have played on. The spin attack has certainly benefited from the slower surfaces and will not be granted this luxury in Perth. While the Renegades are the best performed team of the competition, they haven’t been given the chance to set a target. They only batted first in one of their three pre-BBL02 practice matches against the Canberra Comets, managing only 8/102. This is the only exposed form we can judge, but you’d expect confidence only would be enough to see a major improvement on that score.
Perth will be on a high after two unexpected away wins on the east coast. Shaun Marsh looks to have regained his touch this tournament and will be vital Perth being competitive. Alfonso Thomas has been a welcome inclusion taking 4 wickets in his two games while operating at only 6 an over.
The Renegades are playing too well to pick against, but if you wait for the toss and the Renegades bat first, Perth could be worth a sneaky nibble at $2.00.
Prediction: Renegades by 10 runs/ 5 wickets.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk. Odds quoted are from Sports Bet.
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