Welcome to the Round 8 BBL06 preview. We only have four home and away matches remaining, but there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge in terms of final top four positions. The Brisbane Heat have jumped a game clear on 10 points and are in the box seat for one of two home semi-finals, while the Adelaide Strikers are the only team who can’t make the top four. For the current top four teams to change, one or all of the Renegades, Thunder and Hurricanes need to win, with the Sixers looking the most vulnerable with an extremely poor net run rate and an away game against the Stars. We are set for a thrilling finale to the home and away rounds due to the BBL06 being the tightest ever produced.
Brisbane Heat to win Head to Head @ $1.85
SYDNEY THUNDER ($1.73) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($2.10)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, WEDNESDAY 18/01, 19:40 (Local)
The Sydney Thunder have managed to completely turn its Big Bash season around after looking in danger of kissing its finals hopes goodbye during periods of its fifth game. It produced a third consecutive win on Saturday night against the Sixers, but just as importantly gave itself a huge net run rate boost. Fawad Ahmed was the key destroyer, taking 4/14 from his four overs including the key wickets of Maddinson and Henriques. Brathwaite, Green and Watson all chimed in with vital spells as well, helping restrict the Sixers to a very poor 9/99 from its 20 overs. That target was reached in 10 overs, lifting the Thunder’s net run rate to a now respectable -0.097. It has a genuinely realistic chance of stealing a top four position, perhaps even the Sixers!
The Adelaide Striker’s finals dream is over after a disappointing loss to the Melbourne Renegades at home. After restricting the Renegades to 171 on a very good batting strip, Adelaide were flying at 0/53 in the sixth over. Unfortunately for the large Adelaide Oval crowd, quick top order wickets saw the run rate drop dramatically in the middle overs again. It has been an ongoing problem for the Strikers, one that has ultimately cost the franchise any success. It will be interesting to see how this match is approached by Adelaide with minimal to play for.
The Sydney Thunder are arguably the form team of the competition and are high on confidence. Momentum is a key element to possess at this time of the year and the Strikers are sure to feel flat after the Monday night result.
Prediction: Sydney Thunder to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets
BRISBANE HEAT ($1.85) VS MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($1.95)
AT THE GABBA, FRIDAY 20/01, 18:40 (Local)
The Brisbane Heat have produced a massive upset in the absence of Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum and Samuel Badree, defeating the much more fancied Melbourne Stars away to move to 5-2 and make a home semi-final very likely. The most defining moments of the match arguably occurred with the first two legal deliveries of the first innings, as Steketee claimed the wickets of Quiney and Pietersen. Recently announced Test squad member Mitchell Swepson continued to build the pressure with a brilliant spell of 2/14 from four overs. It was all set up with the ball, leaving the batting order with a stress free chase. No Lynn, no McCullum, no Badree? No worries.
The Melbourne Renegades have kept its BBL06 campaign alive thanks largely to a career best 85 from opener Marcus Harris. Although a bigger score looked on the cards when the team in red found itself 1/100 in the 11th over. A loss of 6/20 from the 16th over onwards stunted all momentum, but still was enough to post a competitive 9/171. At 0/53 in the sixth over, the Renegade’s season looked in doubt before the key wickets of Ludeman and Dunk fell. The middle overs were well restricted, before Thisara Perera faced his second final over moment of defiance within days. Needing to defend 18 runs, Perera held his nerve to take two of his four wickets and help forget the nightmare of the previous Hurricanes chase. The Renegades are one of only four teams with a positive net run rate, which will help its finals chances should it beat Brisbane.
This game potentially has huge ramifications to the final shape of the top four. The Brisbane Heat are set to see McCullum and Badree return to the side, two enormous inclusions structurally. The Renegades have been unlucky during BBL06, but still look a bowler short which is so dangerous when closing out a game.
Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 15-20 runs/6 wickets
HOBART HURRICANES ($2.22) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.67)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, SATURDAY 21/01, 16:20 (Local)
Hobart were another team whose season looked all but gone after the Melbourne Renegades posted 4/222 from its 20 overs, breaking the Big Bash record by 12 runs. No one could have possibly predicted what would come next, as Ben McDermott made a name for himself and cemented a significant pay rise for BBL07. While he looked in promising touch against the Thunder before being run out, his 114 from 52 balls really came from nowhere. He and George Bailey put on 151 runs in under 13 overs to turn the game on its head. It followed a collapse of 6/39, but a touch of luck and a couple of boundaries from Stuart Broad saw the Hurricanes chase the target down and reset the highest score record.
The Perth Scorchers had an uncharacteristic shocker against the Melbourne Stars on Saturday night, losing comfortably by seven wickets. It all started with a top order collapse of 4/13, leading to the worst start by any Big Bash franchise in the tournament’s history. It could have been much worse, but Tye (42), Agar (29no) and Bresnan (20no) did enough to get the score to 134 by the end of the 20th over. The Scorchers always back themselves to defend below par totals, but the Stars never really looked threatened and passed the target with 16 balls to spare.
Perth all of a sudden are struggling for batting depth, but I still rate it as one of the sides to beat this tournament and expect vast improvement. While Hobart chased down the seemingly unchaseable, the bowling attack still isn’t up to scratch for this level of competition.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 20-25 runs/6 wickets
MELBOURNE STARS ($1.85) VS SYDNEY SIXERS ($1.95)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 21/01, 19:25 (Local)
The Melbourne Stars had a chance to secure a home final against a Brisbane Heat outfit missing McCullum and Lynn, but arguably lost the game before a ball was bowled. In a Big Bash season where the winning trend has been electing to bowl first, the Stars decided to bat. No team during BBL06 have won a game after electing to bat first. The decision immediately hurt, as the inform Quiney and Pietersen were dismissed with the first two legal deliveries of the match. It never truly gained control back and struggled to a disappointing 7/138. The bowlers couldn’t produce enough risks as the Heat chased the total with relative ease. The result could not only cost the Stars a home final, but a top four position should it lose comfortably against the Sixers.
The Sydney Sixers could well have shot itself in the foot with a terrible batting display completely destroying any security its four victories had originally produced. An eight wicket loss with ten overs remaining has seen its net run rate freefall to -1.062, easily the worst in the competition. After a slow but at least steady start of 2/52 in the ninth over, the Sixers would go on to lose 4/7 in the next two overs. It would never recover and despite batting out the 20 overs, still couldn’t reach triple figures. Pending results earlier in the round, this is likely to be a must win match now for the Sixers. It is a much better side than that result, but the Stars at home is always a tough proposition.
This is a finals defining encounter. The Melbourne Stars have the potential of Maxwell, Faulkner, Handscomb, Stoinis, and Zampa all being unavailable with the ODI squad, creating a real depth stretch. Considering the Stars have already qualified for a home final, wait until the final squads are announced before committing to this match.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 1-5 runs/4 wickets