The Melbourne Stars are the new competition leaders after the Renegades suffered its first defeat at the hands of the Perth Scorchers. The Stars are certainly looking like the team to beat and are now clear title favourites at $3.30.
The Perth Scorchers have proven that fortunes can change very quickly in T20 cricket after being seen as a potential basket case of the league only two weeks ago, to now being entrenched in the top 4. If the Scorchers do make the final four, they would have earned it with difficult away games against Hobart and Adelaide in the final rounds.
Round 6 brings two table defining games in Hobart vs Perth and the Renegades vs Adelaide. We will have some final standing answers come January 3rd, so we should have an interesting set of matches ahead of us.
Sydney Thunder ($2.27) vs Sydney Sixers ($1.64) at ANZ Stadium, Sunday December 30th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)
The Sydney Sixers lead all encounters 2-0.
Previous Encounter (December 8th, 2012)
Sydney Thunder 5/143 from 20 overs (Carters 33no, Abbott 24no, Rogers 23, Guptill 20, Feldman 2/19, Starc 2/27)
Sydney Sixers 3/147 from 20 overs (Haddin 59, Smith 41no, Maddinson 39, Tremain 2/27)
Sydney Sixers won by 7 wickets.
The two Sydney teams meet for the second time this season and are both desperate for points. In fact, since that last encounter on December 8th, neither team has managed to register a single point between them.
It’s fair to say that the Thunder don’t have a healthy relationship with its home ground ANZ Stadium. They only average 122.67 at the venue and their big hitters struggle with the slow pace of the drop in wicket. Chris Gayle is always going to struggle with consistent scores there.
The Sixers haven’t been any more impressive than the cross town rivals. The one thing in their favour is that they have two top order batsmen making runs in Haddin and Smith. Michael Lumb played his first game from national duties last round and is an important inclusion. Nic Maddinson hasn’t played a game since the first derby and is a chance to return from his groin injury.
The Thunder are every chance to finish winless. The Sixers surely have greater batting depth.
Prediction: Sixers by 30 runs/5 wickets.
Hobart Hurricanes ($1.76) vs Perth Scorchers ($2.07) at Blundstone Arena, Tuesday January 1st.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (December 18th, 2011)
Hobart Hurricanes all out 140 from 19.3 overs (Birt 40, Shah 24, Triffitt 20, Edmondson 4/40)
Perth Scorchers all out 109 from 19.5 overs (M Marsh 35, Rimmington 22, Hilfenhaus 2/10, Naved-ul-Hasan 2/27)
Hobart Hurricanes won by 31 runs.
The Scorchers are surprisingly top 4 after a horrible start to the competition. They have strung together 3 consecutive wins and have to be taken seriously as a potential title threat. The bowling has been outstanding since the Melbourne Stars massacre. The inclusion of Alfonso Thomas has been enormous, having gathered 8 wickets is his 3 games at an economy rate of 4.91 runs per over. Michael Beer has also been important, while not gathering a bag of wickets, his ecomony rate of 5.37 has built constant pressure on opposition top orders. The batting still has question marks. A lot has been left to Shaun Marsh who has delivered on most occasions, while Herschelle Gibbs has made vital runs during two wins. While Voges has been solid when needed, there isn’t much after those three before you start running into a lengthy tail end.
The Hurricanes are now second outright title favourites at $4.00. They are coming off consecutive wins against the two lowly Sydney sides, so their form could be slightly exaggerated.
Ricky Ponting becoming a full time fixture for Hobart hasn’t been a disappointment. He has conjured twin 63s over the last two rounds and is looking difficult to get out. Ben Laughlin is now joint leading wicket taker with Lasith Malinga gathering 10 wickets while still operating at 7.15 runs per over despite bowling at the death of the innings a large chunk of the time.
The long Perth tail is sure to be exposed again sooner or later and the Hurricanes are always strong at Bellerive.
Prediction: Hobart Hurricanes by 25 runs/ 6 wickets.
Melbourne Renegades ($1.80) vs Adelaide Strikers ($1.98) at Etihad Stadium, Wednesday January 2nd
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (December 18nd, 2011)
Adelaide Strikers 5/189 from 20 overs (Harris 49, Klinger 46, Blizzard 30, Borgas 28no, Heal 2/32)
Melbourne Renegades all out 122 from 20 overs (Maxwell 46, McDonald 35, Richardson 3/27, Botha 2/18, O’Brien 2/34)
Adelaide Strikers won by 67 runs.
The Renegades are coming off their first loss of the season after a humbling 51 run thumping from Perth. The bowlers certainly appeared to struggle on the faster WACA track and weren’t as immune from batsmen getting under the ball and clearing the boundary. A strange decision from Finch to bowl himself instead of O’Brien or Rimmington cost the Renegades any chance of reducing the total to something that could be chased. They will enjoy returning to the comforts of Etihad Stadium, although it will be the last home game so a win will be essential to ensure a home semi final is secured.
The Adelaide Strikers are statistically the best batting side in the competition. They are averaging 165.8 runs per innings and have four batsman in the top 15 individual run scorers (Ludeman 165, Klinger 147, Pollard 129, Reardon 116), the most of any other team. Although runs won’t come as fluently at Etihad Stadium. In saying that, other areas could suit, for example Botha, Young and Boyce should all benefit from the slower pitch like Murali, Samuels and O’Brien do.
A really tight game. I’m still interested to see the Renegades set a target before the finals. Again check the toss, Adelaide could be worth a nibble if the Renegades bat first. Apart from that, it’s difficult to go against the Renegades at home.
Prediction: Melbourne Renegades by 10 runs/ 5 wickets
Brisbane Heat ($2.12) vs Melbourne Stars ($1.70) at the Gabba, Thursday January 3rd.
Starting Time: 18.30 (local)
Only Previous Encounter (December 20th, 2012)
Melbourne Stars 7/177 from 20 overs (Quiney 97, Hussey 45, Hauritz 3/18)
Brisbane Heat 7/169 from 20 overs (McCullum 36, Neser 30no, Harris 25no, Hayden 22, McKay 3/22)
Melbourne Stars won by 8 runs.
The Stars are now top of the table and the form team of the tournament, having secured their fourth consecutive win against Adelaide away. They seem to have good performers in every category. Brad Hodge has got himself in prime operation, becoming the second player to pass 200 competition runs after a quality 88 against the Strikers. Even at 38, he is still one of the most dangerous batsmen in the country. The Stars will regain Luke Wright and Shane Warne, while Glenn Maxwell is likely to be unavailable after being called up to the Test squad as cover for Shane Watson.
The Heat are in ok form, despite being third last. They nearly beat the Renegades at Etihad and had a comfortable win against the Thunder at their last start. Ben Cutting is consistently performing at a high level, having taken the most wickets (6) for Brisbane and averaging 26 with the bat. National duties can’t be too far off. Chris Lynn produced another half century and is now averaging 40.33 and striking at a very respectable 140.69.
Heat are travelling well at the moment but the Stars should be too strong.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars 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. Odds quoted are from Sports Bet.
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