Welcome to the BBL05 Round 6 preview. As we begin the final three rounds of the BBL05 home and away fixtures, the table is chock-a-block with seven sides separated by only four points. The Adelaide Strikers are the first team to reach four victories which sees them hold top position outright for the time being.
Cricket Australia released its ODI squad for the upcoming series against India on Tuesday, which will meet in Perth on Friday the 8th for training. This will have a significant impact on some sides, but all players are still available for Big Bash duties up to the 7th of January. Here is a team by team list of which players will be unavailable during that time:
PERTH: M.Marsh, S.Marsh, Paris
STARS: Maxwell, Faulkner, Boland
RENEGADES: Finch, Wade
SIXERS: Smith, Hazlewood
BRISBANE & THUNDER: Unrepresented
The Perth Scorchers, Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades are obviously the three sides that are hardest hit by those selections, although Perth and the Renegades could be compensated with Test players returning. That isn’t guaranteed though as Cricket Australia have indicated that they are considering resting come Test squad members to be in tip top condition for the tour of New Zealand. Expect there to be further ODI squad changes after the matches in Perth and Brisbane.
Melbourne Stars head to head @ $1.80
SYDNEY THUNDER ($1.90) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.90)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, THURSDAY 07/01, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Thunder 3/179 (Kallis 70, Blizzard 47, Hussey 36no) defeated Scorchers 5/159 (Carberry 69no, Agar 31no, Kallis 2/24, Hauritz 2/34) by 20 runs at the WACA
The Sydney Thunder were unlucky against Brisbane last round, going down to a second consecutive loss after bowling in soaking rain during the second innings. The Thunder scored an impressive 5/186 on the back of a 97 run partnership between Shane Watson and Michael Hussey, but as the weather changed, so did the momentum. Any other format of the game would have seen the teams off, but the Thunder continued toiling away in wet and slippery conditions. It meant that the ball was skidding on straight and Chris Lynn took full advantage. The Thunder are still well placed at 3-2, but the loss of the inform Mike Hussey to a hamstring injury for this game isn’t ideal timing.
The Perth Scorchers were completely outplayed by the Adelaide Strikers, resulting in its second loss of the competition. The highly rated bowling attack had a rare off night as wickets were hard to come by, while there was uncharacteristically loose bowling at the death. 174 is certainly a score that can be chased down, but the early wickets of Marsh, Harris and Klinger meant Perth were always on the back foot. Positively, the middle order got vital time in the middle and all got starts. Shaun Marsh and Joel Paris are still available for this game despite being named in the ODI squad.
Michael Hussey is a massive loss for the Thunder. His 223 runs have been enormously vital to his side’s success thus far, so much so that there will be no Thunder player who has scored over 100 runs for this game during BBL05. That gives Perth the edge.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 15 runs/6 wickets
BRISBANE HEAT ($2.30) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($1.63)
AT THE GABBA, FRIDAY 08/01, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Heat 6/152 (Forrest 33, Reardon 31no, Simmons 2/26, Laughlin 2/31) lost to Strikers 5/158 (Head 57no, Ross 36, Gannon 3/32) by 5 wickets at the Gabba
The Brisbane Heat are finally off the mark, registering its first win with a brilliant chase against the Thunder. Look, the Heat were a tad lucky with the conditions, but there is no denying the ridiculous form of Chris Lynn. Even though he couldn’t finish the game off, Lynn’s 75 from 32 balls was match defining. He is seeing the ball like no one else the competition, having smashed 287 runs at a strike rate of 175 from his five games. If he continues striking the ball the way he is now, he’ll singlehandedly win Brisbane more games during BBL05. The Heat mightn’t be travelling very with the ball, but who cares when you have Chris Lynn batting at three?
The Adelaide Strikers have lifted itself to outright top of the table after defeating the much fancied Perth Scorchers and claiming its fourth victory of the competition. Coach Jason Gillespie will be especially happy about the top order getting runs, as the new opening partnership of Ludeman and Jayawardene started with an 84 run stand. With wickets in hand, Head and Hodge were able to accelerate with freedom at a time when there were plenty of overs remaining. Constant wickets ensured the Striker’s target of 174 was never really threatened, as Adil Rashid continued his outstanding form with another three wickets. The Strikers have now shortened to $3.75 title favouritism.
People are starting to take Adelaide seriously, as justified by its new premiership favouritism. Control Chris Lynn and the Strikers get home comfortably.
Prediction: Adelaide Strikers to win by 25 runs/7 wickets
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($2.00) VS MELBOURNE STARS ($1.80)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 09/01, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Renegades 7/161 (White 54, Finch 36, Hastings 4/29) lost to Stars 3/163 (Wright 109no) by 7 wickets at the MCG
The Melbourne Renegades have kept its season alive with a comprehensive victory against Hobart in Tasmania. While the match was completely overshadowed by Chris Gayle’s antics off the field, his on field performance of 41 runs from 15 balls ensured the Renegades chased down the 140 target with six overs to spare and importantly boost its net run rate. Unfortunately for the Renegades, its main strength is about to be decimated with the loss of Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade to ODI duties, seriously weakening its batting order. Finch’s 246 runs sees him ranked second in the competition and while Wade hasn’t been anywhere near as prolific, the Renegade’s depth is going to be seriously tested.
The Melbourne Stars have extended its winning streak to three after comfortably dealing with the Hobart Hurricanes. It was an interesting performance with the ball for the Stars as 50% of the overs were completed by spinners, including Maxwell and Beer bowling the first four of the match. Three wickets fell during that time early on, proving that the tactic was successful. Hastings and Boland then took control of the death overs, producing perfect yorker after perfect yorker. Only 26 runs were conceded in the final five overs, as the brilliantly executed deliveries were nearly impossible to dig out. Maxwell, Faulkner and Boland are obviously big losses to the ODI squad, but if anyone has the required depth, it’s the Stars.
The Stars are developing a very one-sided record against its crosstown rival. While the Stars have lost key players themselves, they possess greater depth to cover the holes. The Renegades must replicate its last bowling performance just to be a chance.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 20-25 runs/6 wickets
HOBART HURRICANES ($2.12) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.73)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, SUNDAY 10/01, 16:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Scorchers 8/141 (Turner 37, Whiteman 36, Bresnan 3/18, Reed 2/27) defeated Hurricanes 7/123 (Hill 64, Arafat 2/21, Behrendorff 2/21) by 18 runs at Blundstone Arena
A loss to the Melbourne Stars has left Hobart mid table on three wins having played an extra game to most of its top four competitors. The Hurricanes again showed that they are prone to an early top order collapse after finding themselves 4/31 after 6 overs. George Bailey again had to steady the ship, producing his fourth score of 40 or over for BBL05. After a decent rebuild by Bailey and Wells, both fell within two balls of each other resulting in only 26 runs for the final 5 overs. Batting is the Hurricanes strength and it can’t afford so many poor performances throughout its innings. It also needs to improve drastically facing spin.
From this moment on, the Perth Scorchers will be without Shaun Marsh at the top of the order as he joins the Australian ODI squad. He and Klinger’s opening partnership has been just as important as the teams bowling efforts, as the middle order has rarely been required during the first half of the competition. The Scorchers also lose Joel Paris to the ODI squad, which is likely to see Ashton Agar bowl more overs. It will be interesting to see who Justin Langer goes with to fill these critical positions.
Both sides lose their best batsmen in Bailey and Marsh to ODI duty, but the Hurricanes rely a lot more on its batting. Check the selected sides first, but Perth deserve favouritism at this early stage.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 10-15 runs/5 wickets
SYDNEY SIXERS ($) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($)
AT THE SCG, SUNDAY 10/01, 19:25
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Heat 6/147 (Forrest 62no, Flintoff 46, Lee 2/29, Henriques 2/35) lost to Sixers 4/148 (Carters 30no, Hopes 2/23) by 6 wickets at the Gabba
The Sydney Sixers had a nightmare couple of away games to end 2015 and begin 2016, going down to Adelaide and Perth. The Sixers looked to have the game wrapped up against the Strikers on New Year’s Eve when needing to defend 51 runs with three overs remaining, before Travis Head went to town on a hapless Sean Abbott. Those 51 runs were passed with three balls to spare as Abbott’s figures blew out from 1/12 off 2 overs to 1/57 from 3.3 overs. The Sixers then travelled to Perth two days later and were on the end of an almighty hiding, as the Scorchers chased the 113 target one wicket down and with 33 balls to spare. Injuries and national selection have decimated the Sixers squad, but Nathan Lyon is expected to be available for this game. At 2-4, the Sixers need everything to go right for a semi-final berth.
Brisbane’s BBL05 finals chances could be over by the time this game rolls around, depending on the result against Adelaide on Friday night. Based on that, it is extremely difficult to analyse what may or may not happen. Daniel Vettori could go into experimental mode and blood some youngsters/fringe players to see what they have to offer. If there is a win to Brisbane on Friday night, expect a near identical structure to what we’ve seen nearly the entire tournament. With Chris Lynn missing the ODI squad, I guess the Heat are always a chance with him in blue.
Don’t commit to this game until after the Friday night encounter. If Brisbane are decent value come Sunday, I’d be giving them some serious consideration.
Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 5-10 runs/3-7 wickets