Big Bash League Round 8 Match Predictions, Tips and Bets

The Round 7 results have seen the Melbourne Renegades 4 points clear of the competition and guaranteed of a home semi final at its fortress, Etihad Stadium. But all game outcomes were overshadowed and hijacked by the extraordinary incident involving Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels. Being at the game myself, I found the circumstances compelling, combative and most importantly entertaining. While some opinions differ to my experiences, we need to realise that cricket can be an emotional sport and that the more competitive a contest is, the higher quality the standard. What happened last night isn’t as bad to the image of the BBL as what some areas of the media and public are making out.

While the Renegades are sitting pretty 2 games clear on top and already planning for finals, there are four teams on 8 points looking to fill the remaining 3 positions. All matches, mathematically including the Sixers vs Renegades game, will have a bearing on how the semi finals are finalised. Cricket Australia and Foxports will be ecstatic that there are minimum final round dead rubbers.

Round 8 will see some franchises depleted of their star T20 cricketers due to the beginning of the ODI Series involving Australia and Sri Lanka. The Melbourne Stars have been hardest hit with David Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay (although all three have been named against the Thunder) and competition dominator Lasith Malinga, all named for their countries. The Renegades will obviously miss skipper and competition leading run scorer Aaron Finch while the Perth Scorchers have no national representatives and could well gain the services of Mike Hussey for the remainder of the tournament after his shock Test retirement and ODI snub.

Tipping record
Round 1: 3-1
Round 2: 4-0
Round 3: 1-3
Round 4: 3-1
Round 5: 3-1
Round 6: 3-1
Round 7: 2-2
Round 8: 2-2
Total to date: 21-11

Melbourne Stars ($1.50) vs Sydney Thunder ($2.60) at the MCG, Tuesday January 8th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)

Only Previous Encounter (17th December, 2011)

Melbourne Stars 7/153 from 20 overs (Hussey 52, Wright 27no, Bailey 23, Bollinger 2/22, Coyte 2/26)

Sydney Thunder 4/154 from 19 overs (Warner 102no, Smith 21, Faulkner 2/20)

Sydney Thunder won by 6 wickets.

The Melbourne Stars will be looking for a very quick change of fortunes after a week to forget. From looking almost certain to host a final at the MCG only days ago, they are now fighting for survival and require a final round win to make the top four. Lasith Malinga has played his last game of the tournament after the Sri Lankan board requested he joined the ODI squad early. He is likely to be replaced by English T20 specialist Dimitri Mascarenhas pending CA approval. Shane Warne will be an important loss due to his well documented suspension, after bowling a superb spell against the Renegades and almost changing momentum single handedly. As of Monday night, David Hussey, Clint McKay and Glenn Maxwell were all named to play against the Thunder despite being named in the ODI squad for Friday night. Just check the final teams to ensure CA haven’t had a change of heart.

Horrible, awful, unsatisfactory, inferior and miserable are some adjectives used to describe the Sydney Thunders season. All appear justifiable. The Thunder will be looking forward to the nightmare ending. Do they have any ounce of confidence left to save itself from the humiliation of a winless competition? I seriously doubt it.

The Stars will surely bounce back.

Prediction: The Melbourne Stars by 40 runs/7 wickets.
Confidence: 85%

Sydney Sixers ($1.65) vs Melbourne Renegades ($2.70) at the SCG, Wednesday January 9th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)

Only Previous Encounter (January 2nd, 2012)

Sydney Sixers 6/161 from 20 overs (Henriques 41, Maddinson 29, Lumb 25, Smith 25, Harwood 2/28, Nannes 2/36)

Melbourne Renegades 2/164 from 17.4 overs (Hodge 72no, McDonald 60no, Finch 25)

Melbourne Renegades won by 8 wickets.

While the Sydney Sixers are still mathematically a chance to make the finals, it is next to an impossibility to occur. Based on that probability, this is the only realistic dead rubber of the final round.

The Renegades would be ecstatic to have already stitched up a home final as injuries and national duties have hit the squad hard. Leading competition run scorer and skipper Aaron Finch is a huge loss. While he’d personally be excited of the national call up, you could tell in his voice that he had unfinished business as the Renegades captain. Marlon Samuels is almost certain to miss the remainder of the tournament due to a suspected fractured eye socket from top edging a Malinga bouncer through the grill of the helmet. While he hasn’t shown much with the bat, his spin bowling will be sorely missed, especially at Etihad. The Renegades are seeking an unnamed international to replace him. Alex Doolan looked good in his first outing and will be tested for an ankle injury, while the inform Ben Rohrer will make a welcomed return from a minor leg injury.

The Sixers managed to field their strongest team of the tournament against the Heat and looked far more balanced. Josh Hazlewood claimed 3/32 on return while Sunil Narine’s replacement, Sachithra Senanayake, looked dangerous. Unfortunately they lose key batsmen Brad Haddin and Steve Smith to the ODI squad for this match.

It’s a tough match to tip. Both teams lose key personnel. The Sixers have struggled with batting depth all tournament but have finally found some consistency. The loss of Haddin and Smith will be difficult to cover.

Prediction: Renegades by 10 runs/4 wickets.
Confidence: 60%

Adelaide Strikers ($2.00) vs Perth Scorchers ($2.00) at the Adelaide Oval, Thursday January 10th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)

All Encounters level 1-1.

Previous Encounter (December 9th, 2012)

Perth Scorchers 6/162 from 20 overs (Voges 58, Marsh 57, Putland 2/39)

Adelaide Strikers 4/164 from 20 overs (Hughes 74, Reardon 42)

Adelaide Strikers won by 6 wickets.

This game has the realistic potential to be a genuine elimination final. If the Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes win, the loser drops out of the top four. Thankfully, the game won’t be determined by poor CA scheduling with the upcoming ODI series having no effect on recent line ups. Although the Strikers do lose trump international Kieron Pollard to home domestic T20 commitments, while the Perth Scorchers are likely to be given a large unexpected boost, the services of Michael Hussey.

The Adelaide Strikers continue to be the best performed batting side statistically averaging 156.86 runs per innings. The unheralded Michael Klinger continues to score runs with a match winning 71 against Hobart and is now third overall for total runs (242). Spinners Botha, Boyce and Young are beginning to click together, with all three operating at under 6 runs per over at Blundstone Arena. Boyce was the main destroyer though, claiming the wickets of Ponting, Birt and Styris.

The Scorchers are peaking at the right time. Apart from the Hobart loss, they’ve looked solid for a few weeks. Shaun Marsh is the main man to get out early, but it is becoming a difficult task. He now has 249 runs at 62.25 from the competition, second overall. The batting depth has always been questioned, but the inclusion of Hussey certainly helps solve the problem.

It’s another tight game. The two recent games against Hobart at Blundstone Arena is solid form to judge. Adelaide were fair more impressive. In saying that, the loss of Pollard and the inclusion of Hussey even things up.

Prediction: Adelaide Strikers by 5 runs/4 wickets.
Confidence: 55%

Hobart Hurricanes ($1.70) vs Brisbane Heat ($2.20) at Blundstone Arena, Saturday January 12th.
Starting Time: 19:00 (local)

All Encounters level 1-1.

Previous Encounter (December 9th, 2012)

Brisbane Heat 6/172 from 20 overs (Christian 49, Burns 44, Perera 22no, Gulbis 3/29, Hogan 2/22)

Hobart Hurricanes 2/175 from 19 overs (Birt 57no, Wells 38, Shah 36no, Paine 28)

Hobart Hurricanes won by 8 wickets.

This is another match that can become an elimination final, this time if the Melbourne Stars lose to the Sydney Thunder or if there is a net run rate damaging result for the Adelaide vs Perth game. As unlikely as it sounds, the Brisbane Heat will be supporting hard for the Thunder to win their first game of the tournament and/or the team batting first at the Adelaide Oval getting rolled for a low score.

Both teams were in fine form coming into round 7 and had unexpected losses. Coincidently, both sides also put in underwhelming batting displays that could well be looked back on as tournament defining moments if they fail to make it any further.

This game will be affected by the Sri Lankan ODIs with the Hurricanes losing Captain George Bailey and hat trick taking finger spinner Xavier Doherty. The Brisbane Heat will be disappointed to be without inform seamer and late order big hitting Ben Cutting who has been demanding international action for 2-3 years.

Blundstone Arena had been a difficult venue to win away before the Strikers game and still will be despite that result. It’s very difficult seeing the Hurricanes losing two games in a row there.

Prediction: Hobart Hurricanes by 30 runs/6 wickets.                                                                                          Confidence: 80%

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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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Mr Century

Covering all things T20 Big Bash Cricket for The Profits.

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