Welcome to the Round 6 Big Bash League preview. The Melbourne Stars just keep on keeping on. It has now guaranteed itself a semi final berth, having created serious daylight between themselves and the rest of the competition. A great indication of exactly how far the Stars are ahead is by assessing the net run rates. The Stars NRR currently reads +3.274, miles ahead of the second placed Scorchers who have +0.042. They are the only two sides with positive NRRs. It can be classed as an extra victory with only three home and away rounds remaining, as the gap is basically impossible to bring in without consistently one sided results. If you like the Stars for the title, I suggest you back them now as their odds won’t be over $2.00 for much longer if the current form holds up.
Round 5 saw some high confidence predictions and the story looks similar for Round 6. The Sydney Thunder feature in two matches which means that there was always going to be one sided odds. Add that to the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers playing bottom four sides and you have a round that offers very little value at all.
Hobart Hurricanes ($1.56) vs Sydney Thunder ($2.39)
Saturday 11/01/2014, at Blundstone Arena, 13:45 (local)
Hobart Hurricanes 4/177 (Ponting 63, Paine 40, Bailey 30no, Zampa 3/26) defeated Sydney Thunder 9/147 (Rogers 24, Keen 24, Azhar 23, Doherty 3/32, Laughlin 2/23) by 30 runs at Blundstone Arena.
This is the battle of the current cellar dwellers with Hobart and the Thunder only registering one win between them for the season. It is an understatement to say that both sides need a victory desperately.
The Hobart Hurricanes were highly rated by some at the start of the season, but you are always going to struggle to win games if you can’t make runs or take wickets. Hobart is currently the only side to not have a batsman who has made at least 100 runs or a bowler to have taken at least 5 wickets. Yes, you can argue that they have played one less fixture and had an abandoned game, but you’d expect that it is enough cricket to at least have one player in the top 15 of either category. Xavier Doherty has joined the ODI squad.
The Thunder’s losing streak has now blown out to 18 matches. Despite the previous encounters being competitive, the struggling Brisbane Heat gave the Thunder a 48 run thumping even with Hussey and Nannes performing. Top 4 is now out of the question, but that doesn’t mean the Thunder have nothing to play for. A win before the end of the season would be enormous for this group, but another winless season will have far greater consequences than previous years.
This is perhaps the Thunders greatest chance for the remainder of the season, but unfortunately Dilshan will still be unavailable with a back complaint. Hobart have low confidence, as witnessed during its capitulation against the Scorchers, but surely have too much class for the hapless Thunder.
Prediction: The Hobart Hurricanes to win by 15 runs/5 wickets
Brisbane Heat ($2.41) vs Melbourne Stars ($1.55)
Saturday 11/01/2014, at the Gabba, 6:15pm (local)
Brisbane Heat 5/171 (Hopes 49, Christian 27, Lynn 26no, Malinga 3/26) defeated Melbourne Stars 9/147 (Wright 34, Perera 3/18, Hopes 3/28) by 24 runs at the Gabba.
The Brisbane Heat are finally back on the winners list after a comfortable 48 run victory against the lowly Thunder. It was a welcomed return to form for both batsmen and bowlers, with a consistent output seeing the Heat get its desired result. Chris Lynn was once again the main destroyer with the bat, slapping 56 from 35 balls, while Cameron Gannon continued his encouraging season by cleaning up the middle to late order and claiming 4/10. It is now back in semi final contention, but must be competitive against the Stars with net runs rates likely to be defining again this season. Brisbane has been barely affected by the ODI squad, with original Test members Watson and Johnson the only Heat listed players selected.
The undefeated Stars can secure a home final at the MCG with a victory against Brisbane. They do however lose Glenn Maxwell and the most recent man of the match James Faulkner to ODI duties. Those two are likely to be replaced in the best XI by Rob Quiney and Marcus Stoinis, while Alex Keath and Scott Boland have also been added to the 13 man squad. The Stars have given themselves a nice buffer for the new structures to gel, with three games to experiment if need be.
Brisbane had a good victory against the Stars last season, but the confidence levels have changed dramatically since then. The Stars should secure a home final on Saturday night.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 25 runs/6 wickets
Melbourne Renegades ($1.45) vs Sydney Thunder ($2.78)
Tuesday 14/01/2014, at Etihad Stadium, 7:40pm (local)
Sydney Thunder 7/116 (Tremain 37no, O’Brien 3/15, Muralitharan 2/16) lost to Melbourne Renegades 5/117 (Finch 31, Rohrer 27, Azhar 2/18) by 5 wickets at ANZ Stadium.
The Melbourne Renegades will be feeling a tad nervous about this game. The franchise loses its two highest run scorers of the tournament in Aaron Finch and Jos Buttler, creating some large holes in the top order. These two have provided 50.4% of the runs for the Renegades, with Finch’s 262 runs leading the competition. They have managed to replace Jos Buttler with West Indies ODI captain Dwayne Bravo, but he is unavailable until January 18th. Alex Doolan is a welcomed inclusion from the Test squad. Ben Rohrer is having a tournament to forget after his heroics last year, contributing only 59 runs at 14.75. He will have to lift his output in the absence of Finch and Buttler.
The Sydney Thunder back up for its second match for the round, so ensure you consider Michael Hussey as your fantasy captain. The Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers don’t compete this round, but I wouldn’t be looking to bring in any Thunder players unless you haven’t got Hussey or Nannes already.
Nervous times for the Renegades without their big names in Finch, Buttler and Pattinson. Its batting still runs deeper than the Thunder’s and we already know the bowling suits Etihad Stadium well. The availability of Dilshan will be vital for the Thunder.
Prediction: The Melbourne Renegades to win by 15 runs/4 wickets
Sydney Sixers ($1.73) vs Hobart Hurricanes ($2.12)
Wednesday 15/01/2014, at the SCG, 7:40pm (local)
Sydney Sixers 8/154 (Lumb 34, D.Smith 34, Laughlin 4/31, Doherty 2/26) lost to Hobart Hurricanes 3/158 (Ponting 63no, Blizzard 48, Feldman 2/21) by 7 wickets at the SCG.
The Sydney Sixers were part of the first ever Australian domestic T20 super over, where it only managed to register a paltry one run. It was an anticlimactic finish to a fantastic match, where Steve Smith brought the Sixers back to tie the game from a seemingly impossible position. His 65 from 48 balls was the required rearguard innings, but he lacked support in the top order. Michael Lumb was a late withdrawal against the Scorchers and will be an important inclusion. Brett Lee is back in great form, collecting career best T20 figures of 4/28.
Like Sydney Thunder, the Hobart Hurricanes back up for its second match of the round. The mind set of Hobart will be interesting coming into this game, especially if it somehow loses to the Thunder. The loss to Perth when needing only 21 runs from 17 balls with two set batsman was the ultimate confidence destroyer. From that position, Hobart could only produce 14 runs from 17 balls after originally having 7 wickets in hand. Perth bowled well, but the experience of Shoaib Malik and Owais Shah should have been enough to cruise to a comfortable victory. Will the mental scars have an influence on future performances?
The Sydney Sixers are still in decent form and should deal with the struggling Hurricanes comfortably.
Prediction: The Sydney Sixers to win by 25 runs/6 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.
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