After some favourable round 8 results, the Brisbane Heat have surprised many by knocking off the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena and have claimed the last top four position. But they have arguably the most difficult road trip in the competition, the Renegades at Etihad Stadium. The opening batsmen of both franchises are sure to have spectators salivating. The Renegades unveiled their new international, Englishman Alex Hales, who produced a spectatular 89 off 52 that including 8 mammoth sixes. Brisbane’s Luke Pomersbach a similarly eye opening innings, thumping his way to the fastest 50 of the competition at Hobart, off a blistering 24 balls. Expect more big hitting.
The Perth Scorchers were able to secure a home final after a gigantic 98 run win against an extremely disappointing Adelaide Strikers outfit. The win was again set up by a major Shaun Marsh contribution. Marsh, who had barely made a run for Western Australia and consequently dropped, has been a revelation for the Scorchers and turned his form around completely. But is Marsh relied upon too much? The fact that he has scored 33.1% of the Scorchers total runs suggests that the question is justified.
The Melbourne Stars travel to Perth for a second year running semi final after being given a massive scare from the bottom placed Sydney Thunder. Chris Gayle came good at the wrong time for the Stars, scoring a 25 ball half century and appeared to be cruising to victory with Usman Khawaja. But the Thunder lost 8/41, the match and now have to suffer the humiliation of ending the season winless. The Stars have lost form at the wrong time of the year and need momentum to change quickly.
Cricket Australia national selector John Inverarity has announced that members of the ODI squad will not be released to take part in the BBL02 semi finals. The Renegades and Scorchers are both unaffected by this, with neither franchise having any representatives. The Heat have Mitchell Johnson, while the Stars are hugely weakened with David Hussey, Clint McKay, Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade in the squad.
Round 1: 3-1
Round 2: 4-0
Round 3: 1-3
Round 4: 3-1
Round 5: 3-1
Round 6: 3-1
Round 7: 2-2
Round 8: 2-2
Semi Finals: 1-1
Total to date: 22-12
Semi Final 1. Melbourne Renegades ($1.63) vs Brisbane Heat ($2.29) at Etihad Stadium, Tuesday January 15th.
Starting Time: 19:00(local)
All encounters level at 1-1.
Previous Encounter (December 22nd, 2012)
Brisbane Heat 7/133 from 20 overs (Perera 38, Cutting 33no, Muralitharan 2/22, Pattinson 2/32)
Melbourne Renegades 4/137 from 19.1 overs (Finch 33, Rohrer 30no, Cooper 29, Cutting 2/12)
Melbourne Renegades won by 6 wickets.
The Melbourne Renegades provided many answers against the Sixers after question marks surfaced when Finch was called up to the ODI squad and Marlon Samuels was ruled out for the rest of the tournament. But the recruitment of Alex Hales was underrated and that was shown immediately when he began belting Sixers bowlers to all parts of the SCG, including the roof of the Ladies Stand. Skipper Aaron Finch has been dropped from the ODI squad and will create one of the most ominous partnerships with Hales the Big Bash has ever seen. It will be must watch cricket.
The Brisbane Heat have scraped into the top four and won’t want to stop at that. They will surely go into the game full of confidence, not just because of the convincing win against Hobart, but also due to being the only team to have pushed the Renegades at Etihad Stadium. The Heat were well on top before a well structured partnership between Rohrer and Cooper guided the Renegades to victory. The Heat will be pleased to retain Ben Cutting from ODI duties as he has been a timely wicket taker and run scorer. Pomersbach has been one of the more damaging players of the tournament and an inspired pick up for Darren Lehmann after most states and franchises refused to go near him. He has the sixth most competition runs (248) and will need to significantly add to that to see the Heat be competitive.
The home advantage of Etihad has been well documented for the Renegades. The spinners especially rarely fail. I have no reason to suggest that this won’t continue. They are still the team to beat for the title at $3.20 in my eyes despite the Perth Scorchers now $3.00 outright favourites.
Prediction: Melbourne Renegades by 30 runs/6 wickets.
Semi Final 2. Perth Scorchers ($1.65) vs Melbourne Stars ($2.25) at the WACA Ground, Wednesday January 16th.
Starting Time: 17:00 (local)
Perth Scorchers lead all encounters 2-1
Previous Encounter (December 12th, 2012)
Perth Scorchers all out for 69 from 15.2 overs (Malinga 6/7, Faulkner 2/16)
Melbourne Stars 0/29 from 2 overs (Wright 23no)
Melbourne Stars won by 24 runs (D/L method)
The Perth Scorchers go into this semi final as the new title favourites. But they’ll have to erase the demons of this season’s previous encounter when bowled out for a horrendous 69. This will be made much easier with chief destroyer Lasith Malinga no longer part of the Stars squad. His 6/7 would still be creating nightmares, but in saying that, his exclusion in itself is sure to draw a large amount of confidence. Mike Hussey is an important inclusion for the Scorchers depth, but he is likely to be brought in at the dispense of another batsman, perhaps Marcus North, in order to keep the successful bowling structure.
The Stars are in a form slump. It doesn’t at all help that Cricket Australia have refused to realise David Hussey, Clint McKay, Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade. Add that to Malinga and that is nearly half of the best XI missing. Dimitri Mascarenhas is a handy addition bowling his cutters, but he isn’t in the same class of McKay and Malinga. Much will be asked of Brad Hodge with the bat. It is time for the likes of Rob Quiney and Cam White to step up with the bat and contribute.
The Stars have lost too many big names and the Scorchers are on a high, despite the heavy Shaun Marsh reliance.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers by 25 runs/ 3 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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