Welcome to the Round 2 BBL07 preview. The Melbourne Renegades are the early pacesetters of the competition after two comfortable seven wicket victories against the Hurricanes and Heat. Their vast offseason recruiting spree has already paid dividends in the bowling stakes, with a more economic, disciplined attack creating two simple chases for their top order to start the season. The biggest disappointment to date would have to be the Sydney Sixers, whose untidy moments with both ball and bat sees them already playing catch up with two losses. The opening matches are already indicating that we could be in for a tight, unpredictable season.
PERTH SCORCHERS HEAD TO HEAD @ $2.18 AGAINST MELBOURNE STARS (if Perth bowling first)
SCORCHERS ($2.18) VS STARS ($1.67)
AT THE WACA, TUESDAY 26/12, 19:10
The Perth Scorchers entered its opening BBL07 clash against the Sydney Sixers severely undermanned, although as we’ve become accustomed to, there is no team that has greater depth than the reigning titlist. It was the bowlers who again did the job, as Johnson, Willey and Richardson provided the early damage to have the Sixers 5/46, before Andrew Tye rolled through the tail to take 4/21 and claim a third T20 hat-trick for 2017. Perth’s inexperienced top order looked shaky at times, before a 27 ball half century from Ashton Turner saw the away side reach its target with 11 balls to spare.
It was a disappointing start for the Melbourne Stars, conceding 206 runs against a Brisbane Heat line up missing Chris Lynn. It’s pacemen in particular were leaking runs at will, as Boland and Hastings conceded a huge 96 runs from their six combined overs. The chase was always going to be difficult, but when the Stars fell to 4/53, the match looked shot. Although a 137 run fifth wicket partnership between Stoinis and Faulkner made the scorecard competitive, highlighted by a brilliant 99 from the former who was ran out on the third last ball of the innings.
The Scorchers will again be fielding a very inexperienced side, especially its top order. Although its bowling has a habit of keeping games alive and Perth are likely to be well and truly in the game if it bowls first. Check the toss and take advantage of the Scorchers juicy $2.18 odds if the Stars are setting a target.
PERTH SCORCHERS TO WIN BY 5 WICKETS
CONFIDENCE: 75-80% (if Perth bowling first)
HEAT ($1.65) VS THUNDER ($2.25)
AT THE GABBA, WEDNESDAY 27/12, 19:10
The Brisbane Heat have started BBL07 in solid fashion considering it is yet to have had access to its game breaker Chris Lynn, recording a win and a loss against the two Melbourne sides. It posted an impressive 7/206 against a rusty Stars bowling attack, with all its key strikers in McCullum, Burns, Ross and Cutting making defining contributions. Its top order didn’t look nearly as comfortable on the slower Etihad wicket, as all its batsmen struggled to maintain a run rate much higher than a run a ball. Bowling wise, the two leg spinners in Shadab Khan and Mitchell Swepson are the Heat’s most dangerous options, as the pace attack of Steketee, Doggett, Lalor and Cutting has looked vulnerable to go for big runs. The return of Lynn and Burns certainly make this side a more threatening proposition.
The Sydney Thunder will be pleased to have a win on the board after its opening two games, but it is very lucky to have any points after a mini Sixers capitulation. After a brilliant innings of 77 off 46 balls from Shane Watson, the Thunder still required 16 runs from the final over. Some misdirection from Sean Abbott early in the over conceded boundaries and gave the Blizzard/Nair partnership an unlikely opportunity that they took with open arms. The Thunder was soundly beaten in its second encounter against Adelaide, after being bowled out for 110 chasing 164. While McClenaghan, Fawad and Nair have been outstanding with the ball, holes in the batting line up will continually put pressure on the likes of Shane Watson to make a decent contribution each week.
Lynn and Burns are both likely to return for the Heat, which makes them a higher confidence bet here. Plenty has to go right for the Thunder for it to be seen as a realistic chance.
BRISBANE HEAT TO WIN BY 20-25 RUNS/7 WICKETS
SIXERS ($1.81) VS STRIKERS ($2.00)
AT THE SCG, THURSDAY 28/12, 19:10
A poor opening two matches has casted doubt on the Sydney Sixers, but with a longer tournament this season, there is plenty of time to get back in the mix. The Sixers threw away a golden opportunity to start the campaign with a victory, but undisciplined bowling from experienced players ultimately cost the game. Left arm seamer Daniel Sams was outstanding with 4/14 to claim the best ever figures on BBL debut and after he dismissed Shane Watson in the third last over, the Sixers looked home. Although some rank deliveries from Bollinger and Abbott gave Nair and Blizzard a sniff and they took their chances. In the BBL06 Final replay, the Sixers were even more disappointing against a depleted Scorchers outfit. It was never really in the match after falling to 5/46 and Perth eventually cruised to victory by 6 wickets. The Sixers certainly need more from its short format specialists.
The Adelaide Strikers got off the mark in a professional, all-round performance against the Thunder. Many solid contributions with the bat got Adelaide to a competitive total of 6/163 before its bowlers took control of the game. The Striker’s pace unit of Siddle, Stanlake and Laughlin has a flexible look about it and contributed for seven wickets, while Afghan leg spinning sensation Rashid Khan quickly proved how difficult he is going to be to counter with figures of 2/22 and an early ball of the tournament contender, as his difficult to read wrong’un cannoned into Ben Rohrer’s stumps.
I’m more than willing to give the Sixers another chance, but I’ve got low confidence here. I’m happy to sit back and learn a little more about these two sides.
SYDNEY SIXERS TO WIN BY 1-5 RUNS/4 WICKETS
RENEGADES ($) VS SCORCHERS ($)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 29/12, 19:10
After two extremely comfortable seven wicket victories against Hobart and Brisbane, the Melbourne Renegades have shortened to $3.75 outright favourites to take home the BBL07 title. Their bowling attack looks far more effective with the inclusions of Richardson, Nabi and Wildermuth, while veteran T20 experts Dwayne Bravo and Brad Hogg have started the season in outstanding fashion. Bravo already has seven wickets to his name to top the competition charts, highlighted by a five wicket haul against Hobart. The batting order also has much greater depth and is helped further by Cameron White seeing the white Kookaburra like a basketball to date. His two half centuries have made the Renegades chases trouble free, despite two failures from skipper Aaron Finch. There is room for improvement too, which creates further optimism about the Gades.
The two tournament favourites go head to head here, so it will be a great early tester to truly see where each team is at. As usual, wait to see Perth’s output against the Stars on Boxing Day before committing, but the Renegades certainly appear to have greater depth on paper. You can never discount Perth though.
MELBOURNE RENEGADES TO WIN BY 10-15 RUNS/5 WICKETS