Welcome to the Round 2 BBL05 preview. The first group of matches to begin BBL05 produced some interesting results to say the least. There was a mix of close matches, blow outs, upsets and predictable outcomes. The biggest thing to come out of the opening five matches is the respective 2-0 and 0-2 starts of the Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars, despite the minimal possible margin between the two sides of one run. The Thunder has already equalled its most wins in a season and will go into its Christmas break full of confidence. It has seen them shorten to equal second favouritism for the title, expectations the Western Sydney franchise has never been associated with. The Stars lost its first two games of BBL04 and still made the finals, so it isn’t panic stations for them just yet.
Hobart Hurricanes head to head @ $1.75
PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.62) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($2.52)
AT THE WACA, MONDAY 21/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Scorchers 6/133 (Voges 54no, Zampa 2/26, Laughlin 2/27, Tait 2/27) defeated Strikers 115 (Hogg 2/11, Tye 2/20, Agar 2/24, Arafat 2/30) by 18 runs at Adelaide Oval.
The reigning back to back title holder Perth finally begins its BBL05 campaign on Monday with an important clash against an already victorious Strikers side. The opportunity to have watched its opponent compete already could be an advantage, but the Scorchers have few secrets to hide themselves. After such a successful period over the last couple of seasons, the Scorchers may well have their greatest ever XI on the field for this game. Voges, Coulter-Nile and the Marsh brothers have all been released from the Test Squad to play, creating a star studded line up. Voges and the Marsh brothers won’t be seen very often at Big Bash level, so the Scorchers will be looking to take full advantage.
The Adelaide Strikers have replicated its brilliant start of BBL04 by defeating the highly rated Melbourne Stars for the second consecutive season. That confidence saw the Strikers rise to bigger and better things during the home and away rounds and it will be interesting to see if they can produce similar results. A fifth wicket Big Bash record partnership of 115 from Brad Hodge and Alex Ross was the catalyst for a very healthy 5/187, an especially impressive score after being 4/64 in the 10th over. Constant wickets after a fast start from Stoinis and Wright slowed the Stars momentum on numerous occasions and ultimately was enough for the Strikers to defend its good total.
The Scorchers line up is impossible to ignore on this occasion. The Strikers showed what they are capable of, but can’t afford to be 4 wickets down in the first ten overs again.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 25 runs/6 wickets
HOBART HURRICANES ($1.75) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($2.10)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, TUESDAY 22/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Heat 6/198 (Lynn 81, Forrest 46, Malik 3/37) defeated Hurricanes 8/180 (Malik 42, Hilfenhaus 38no, Steketee 2/28, Christian 2/48) by 18 runs at the Gabba.
The Hobart Hurricanes couldn’t have started its BBL05 campaign in any worse fashion, going down to the Sixers by 95 runs. It was an all-round poor performance, starting with questionable bowling changes and execution, before its much anticipated batting line up completely capitulated. The bowling is the biggest issue, as the seamers in particular struggled to find an effective T20 line and length. As disastrous as the batting effort was, you’d think considering the talent it was a once off. You won’t win many games at 3 for 4 after 13 balls. Losing 7 wickets to spin is also a rare occurrence in T20 cricket. I’m not willing to write Hobart off just yet.
Unfortunately for the Brisbane Heat, the same old problems raised their ugly heads during its season opener against the Melbourne Renegades. The Heat managed to post a very defendable total of 5/180 with solid contributions throughout the innings and no clear standout, but batting isn’t Brisbane’s issue here. The Heat have now taken only 39 wickets in its last 9 Big Bash games after the Renegades chased their total with only three wickets down. Mark Steketee like many is still adjusting from first class areas, but his second last over couldn’t have been served much better on Dwayne Bravo’s platter. The Renegades have an impressive batting order on paper and the double strike of Finch and White from Fekete deserves to be mentioned, but you just can’t win T20 matches without consistently taking wickets.
Hobart will be doing anything in its power to completely turn around its horrendous performance against the Sixers. They’ll obviously know Brisbane are struggling to take wickets and their power hitters have great potential to expose that.
Prediction: Hobart to win by 25 runs/7 wickets
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($1.70) VS SYDNEY SIXERS ($2.15)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, WEDNESDAY 23/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Renegades 7/154 (Ferguson 40, Wade 35, Abbott 2/20, Lee 2/21, 2/38) lost to Sixers 2/155 (Maddinson 84no, Henriques 36) by 8 wickets at the SCG
The Melbourne Renegades have started its BBL05 campaign with a bang, chasing down 180 and showing the competition just how dangerous its talented batting order can be. All eyes were on Chris Gayle and while he didn’t necessarily fail with a quick fire 23 runs, it was the partnership of Finch and White that changed the match. A record stand of 111 between the two set up the win, while Dwayne Bravo’s 22 from 9 balls finished the game off. The bowling wasn’t quite as impressive though, as the Renegade’s depth looked weak at times. Tremain, Rimmington, Bravo and Doherty were all solid, but Guy Walker really struggled as that third seamer. His short bowling cost 47 runs from three overs, a figure that is likely to see him lose his spot. No side can afford to carry that type of blow out and it nearly cost the Renegades vital points.
The Sydney Sixers produced a mixed bag of results in its two opening games of BBL05, going down to the Thunder by 36 runs, but completely annihilating Hobart to the tune of 95 runs. The Sixers managed to turnaround its poor batting effort against the Thunder with an impressive 7/186 at the SCG. Haddin set the innings up with 72 from 45 balls, while Silk was solid late with an important 41. It was the Sixers biggest total set at home, which created pressure from the start. From there Nathan Lyon took control with the new ball, reducing Hobart to 3 for 4. Lyon ended with 5/23 from 3.5 overs, but won’t be available for this game as the Test squad regroup.
This is probably tighter than the odds suggest as I feel the slower Sixers bowlers will suit Etihad Stadium. Extremely tough to split, but I’m leaning only marginally toward the Renegades.
Prediction: Renegades to win by 5 runs/3 wickets