Welcome to the Round 5 BBL06 preview. We are at the halfway point of the home and away fixture and things continue to be very tight on the table. The Brisbane Heat have moved to the top with another Chris Lynn master class bringing up his franchise’s fourth victory. Perth and the Sixers sit next on 3-2, while the Renegades, Hurricanes, Stars and Strikers all have games in hand to the top three. Every team has now won a game and all have lost at least one, proving just how competitive the tournament is. It has arguably been the most difficult Big Bash to predict, but there are great financial rewards for punters who have been getting it right.
Melbourne Stars Head to Head @ $1.81
ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($1.81) VS HOBART HURRICANES ($2.00)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, FRIDAY 06/01, 18:40 (Local Time)
The Adelaide Strikers are in danger of losing complete touch with the top four after a very poor performance against the Hobart Hurricanes. It currently sits 1-3 and will need to win its remaining matches to guarantee a top four position. The Strikers produced a strange first innings at Blundstone Arena, taking a very cautious approach in the middle overs. It did lose three quick wickets in that time, but could only score 28 runs from the 4th to 11th over. Travis Head in particular created enormous pressure for himself, resulting in a domino effect and a below par score that was easily chased down.
The Hobart Hurricanes are travelling well enough at 2-2, but now need to build momentum from its win against Adelaide. Its new bowling structure worked a treat, despite not necessarily being deliberate. Shaun Tait was unavailable and Kingston dropped, meaning Christian, Webster and Milenko had to bowl a large percentage of overs. Why Dan Christian hadn’t been bowling in the first place had been confusing, but he made an immediate statement with outstanding figures of 5/14 to restrict Adelaide to 143. A 105 run opening partnership from Paine and the impressive D’Arcy Short saw the target reduced quickly and passed with more than two overs to spare.
Considering these two played each other only four days earlier, you couldn’t have better form trends to assess. Although the Adelaide tactics were very strange and I can’t see it travelling at glacial speeds in those middle overs again. The Strikers should be more competitive at home, but I have minimal confidence here.
Prediction: Adelaide Strikers to win by 1-5 runs/3 wickets.
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($2.00) VS MELBOURNE STARS ($1.81)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 07/01, 19:10 (Local Time)
The Melbourne Stars have gone down to its second consecutive upset loss, with Eoin Morgan hitting Ben Hilfenhaus for six off the last ball in amazing scenes. On an extremely dry wicket, the Stars got off to a flyer with Maxwell and Wright making short, but useful contributions of 34 and 25 respectively. Although it was Kevin Pietersen’s first significant score of the tournament (60 from 37 balls) that looked to set up a great score. The Stars were 3/146 after 15 overs, but a collapse of 5/16 saw it only get to 166. It still appeared a decent score at the time, but a rain downpour made the pitch slippery and more suitable to batting. The Stars still looked in control for a majority of its bowling stint, but clinical late hitting from Morgan stole the match from their grasp.
The Melbourne Renegades pulled off a big upset against its arch rival the Stars on New Year’s Day, getting home by seven runs with the help of the Duckworth/Lewis Method. The Renegades sprung one of the biggest surprises of the tournament by opening the batting with Sunil Narine, a tactic that can certainly be declared a success. He hit 21 runs from 13 balls and more importantly lengthened the batting order in the absence of Bravo. While Finch and Harris went in quick succession in the eighth and ninth overs, White and Cooper proved the order still possesses depth with a partnership of 72 runs. If the Renegades can score 170+, the likes of Narine and Hogg will be able to help defend that on most occasions. James Pattinson is expected to play his first game of the tournament as well as the international replacement for Bravo, who is yet to be named.
I think the Melbourne Stars can learn a bit from its loss on New Year’s Day. It will be better prepared for any surprises at the top of the order and could have been more aggressive to White and Cooper at the start of the partnership. It was also hurt by the rain break, losing two overs of potential hitting from the inexperienced Stevenson. I like the Star’s chances second time around and it will be desperate for points.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets.
HOBART HURRICANES ($1.71) VS SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.14)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, SUNDAY 08/01, 19:10 (Local Time)
The Hurricanes are playing two days earlier against Adelaide, so ensure you assess that encounter before committing to this result. Hobart had been one of the more difficult teams to cling to at the start of the tournament, but made some structural adjustments that deserve credit. Firstly the bowling attack looks better with less pace. Broad has also changed his length and become less predictable, while Christian now rolling the arm over is like having a new recruit. The batting always looked a strength, but D’Arcy Short has been an unexpected bonus. His sweet timing has garnered 140 runs at a strike rate of 170.73 and while the Dunk trade looks a loss on first impression, it did open the opportunity for Short to flourish.
The Sydney Thunder looked to have kissed its BBL06 finals chances goodbye, but an amazing last ball six from Eoin Morgan has kept his franchise’s title hopes alive. With the Stars 3/146 after 15 overs, it appeared the Thunder would be chasing 200+ on a difficult pitch. Although great bowling spells from Green, Fawad and Watson helped restrict the Stars to a gettable 166. At 4/84 after 13 overs, the Thunder looked gone again but a partnership of 84 runs from 43 balls between Morgan and Cummins completely shook the game up. Needing 16 off the last over, Cummins got the ball rolling with a maximum off the third delivery, before a single left Morgan to finish off the work and win the most unlikeliest. It had to do so without Andre Russell from a majority of the match too, after his suspect body finally gave in to a serious injury. He has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament and replaced by fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite. Eoin Morgan has also played last game for the franchise and will be replaced with Englishman James Vince.
Hobart will still have plenty to play for win or lose against Adelaide, making this a must win game for both franchises. It will be a different looking Thunder with Morgan and Russell unavailable, which gives the Hurricanes a clear advantage at home.
Prediction: Hobart Hurricanes to win by 10-15 runs/6 wickets.
SYDNEY SIXERS ($) VS MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($)
AT THE SCG, MONDAY 09/01, 19:40 (Local Time)
The Sixers rollercoaster tournament continued last Tuesday with a brilliant victory against the highly rated Brisbane Heat. Chasing 186 was always going to be a difficult task, but when Billings fell in the 11th over to reduce the Sixers to 4/91, Brisbane become short priced favourites. That changed quickly though as Brad Haddin came out swinging to score a vital 32 from 13 balls. The real hero though was Daniel Hughes, whose 85 from 55 balls anchored the innings almost until the end. The knock has propelled him into the top five run scorers from just three innings. Sean Abbott also continued his outstanding form with the ball, collecting the massive wickets of McCullum, Lynn and Cutting to now be streets ahead on the most wickets list with 12.
The Renegades are playing two days earlier against the Stars, so ensure you assess that encounter before committing to this result. The Renegades obvious improvement has come from its bowling, almost exclusively from the recruitment of Narine and Hogg. While Tremain has had his moments, it is the two spinners that opposition batsmen are struggling with the most. They have taken 9 wickets from the first three games and are operating at a combined 6.37 runs per over. The spin twins can only bowl eight overs between them and without Bravo, it seems the team in red is a bowler short. It certainly benefitted from only having to bowl 18 overs at the MCG, so it will be interesting to see what direction is taken with the new international. James Pattinson is required desperately.
Betting wise, I’m staying away from the Sixers until it can produce some consistency, especially with Roy and Billings now on England ODI duties. Hard to predict either side with great confidence until the squads are announced.
Prediction: Sydney Sixers by 1-5 runs/3 wickets