Welcome to the Round 3 BBL06 preview. The competition is only in its very early stages, but already it appears that this season’s Big Bash could be one of the tightest we’ve seen so far. Perth, Brisbane and the Sixers all find themselves with two wins each, while the Stars, Hobart and the Renegades aren’t too far away with one victory. The Sydney Thunder are the only side so far who may fear its current position and will probably need to win its remaining five matches to make the top four. After the first seven matches produced mostly one sided results, the final two matches of Round 2 were down to the wire epics as the Heat and Sixers recorded last minute victories. The next group of matches look just as mouth-watering with the Melbourne derby and a couple of developing rivalries.
Perth Scorchers Head to Head @ $1.76 ($1.85 with powered odds at Sportsbet)
BRISBANE HEAT ($1.73) VS HOBART HURRICANES ($2.10)
AT THE GABBA, FRIDAY 30/12, 18:10 (Local Time)
It doesn’t really matter what situation the match is in, if the Heat are chasing and Chris Lynn is still at the crease, you can’t write his team off. It was hard not to write Brisbane off when 6/63 after 10 overs, but Lynn never appeared panicked despite the difficulty of the task ahead. He set the tone earlier with five consecutive boundaries against a fired up Pat Cummins and from there, his teammates batted (and fell) around him. With the run rate skyrocketing above 13 at times, Lynn needed some luck and received it with Doran and Watson dropping sitters. But his innings of 85 runs from 48 balls was still a freak performance and I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to greater support from the top order in future games.
The Hobart Hurricanes looked in prime position against the Stars with a score of 4/188 after recovering from 3/32. Paine and Bailey contributed an outstanding partnership of 145 runs to save the innings, scoring 91 and 74 respectively. With an above par score to defend, the bowling attack made life easy for the Stars by constantly hitting leaking lengths. Tait and Kingston were the worst offenders, combining for 93 runs from their seven overs bowled. Stuart Broad fired up late with two wickets, but the match was as good as over by then. The Hurricanes certainly have bowling issues and the solutions are limited.
The Brisbane Heat look like one of the teams to beat at this early stage. While the top order is full of risk takers, it is difficult to see the Heat have another collapse against this Hobart attack.
Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 20-25 runs/6 wickets
ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($1.82) VS SYDNEY SIXERS ($2.00)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 31/12, 18:40 (Local Time)
The Adelaide Strikers will be desperate to get on the board after consecutive losses to begin its campaign. While it should have beaten the Brisbane Heat, it was convincingly outplayed against a near full strength Perth. Its bowling has been leaking runs too, conceding huge scores of 206 and 197. It possesses a predictable attack that lacks flexibility and another quality spin option after the loss of Adil Rashid and Jon Holland. Liam O’Connor has shown promise, but is only two games into his domestic career and can’t be relied on so heavily.
The Sydney Sixers have been a little up and down, but have two wins on the board after three games and are well placed. Its bowling attack had a more balanced feel against the Scorchers, with Mennie dropped for off spinner Will Somerville. The three spinners of Botha, O’Keefe and Somerville combined for outstanding figures of 4/59 from ten overs, the key reason Perth were restricted to 130 from its 20 overs. While Jason Roy was a late exclusion, the top order chased the small total with minimal fuss as Billings, Henriques, Silk and Botha all made contributions. It was a disciplined performance against a genuine title contender.
This is a difficult game to predict and I’m a little surprised that the odds aren’t tighter. I expect the Strikers to eventually bounce back, but I’m a fan of this Sixers side and there is certainly value. Everyone will remember the corresponding game last year due to the heroics of Travis Head, but the Sixers never should have lost and have a better side this time around.
Prediction: Sydney Sixers to win by 5-10 runs/4 wickets
MELBOURNE STARS ($1.73) VS MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($2.11)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 01/01, 18:10 (Local Time)
The Melbourne Stars began its BBL06 campaign in great fashion, chasing down a target of 189 with a massive 14 balls to spare. Its top three of Quiney, Wright and Maxwell conjured all but 10 of the runs, scoring 75, 48 and 58 with high strike rates respectively. Rob Quiney’s innings in particular got the Stars rolling having dropped out of the best XI in recent seasons. He has created a selection dilemma with Kevin Pietersen to return, but these are problems that every team wants to have. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a position for both men.
The Melbourne Renegades almost pulled off an impossible victory against the Perth Scorchers after posting a below par target of 8/148. Perth were cruising at 2/131 early in the 18th over and the Renegades had to find extra overs after specialist death bowler Bravo suffered a nasty hamstring injury in the field. The wicket of Klinger created some panic and a mini collapse. Perth lost 4/11 in 13 balls and a couple of doubles to Agar left Perth needing three runs off the final ball. Aaron Finch had been a brilliant fill in bowler up to that point with the wicket of Marsh and run out of Voges, but he left his worse for last and a juicy full toss went sailing over the fence for six. It could end up being a defining moment for the Renegades, especially with the loss of Bravo.
This has the potential of being a great contest with a likely packed MCG again, but the injury to Dwayne Bravo creates structural damage to the Renegade’s batting and bowling. The Stars look incredibly strong.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets
PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.76) VS SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.07)
AT THE WACA, SUNDAY 01/01, 18:15 (Local Time)
The Perth Scorchers were lucky to get away with the points against a gutsy Renegades side on Thursday night, after being in control from a majority of the match. Its bowling attack suited the Etihad Stadium drop in wicket, with the off pace varieties of Willey, Tye and Marsh very effective. It helped restrict the Renegades to 148, a target Perth certainly would have been happy with. The chase started well, but when requiring 18 off the final 17 balls with eight wickets in hand, it all started to go wrong. Klinger, Turner, Marsh and Voges all went within 13 balls, making a simple task suddenly unlikely. Agar hit a six off the final ball to win the game, but Justin Langer would be disappointed his strong batting order had such difficulty closing the game out. It appears a middle order highly reliant on flat wickets.
It has become a make or break situation now for the Sydney Thunder, who need to win all of its remaining games to be guaranteed of a top four position. The batting presented problems again, but 66 off the final 34 balls including 27 from the last over gave the Thunder a defendable total. It then found itself in the box seat, as Patrick Cummins rattled the castles of McCullum and Ross with searing deliveries. The Heat fell to 6/63, but the Thunder hadn’t yet dealt with its greatest danger Chris Lynn. Substitute him with any other batsmen in the competition and the Thunder probably win, but two awfully simple dropped catches didn’t help.
Perth again have a strong squad for this game and are great value at $1.76. The Thunder pulled a decent score out of the bag against Brisbane, but won’t have it that easy in the final five overs against Perth. If you power the odds with Sportsbet, you can get an attractive $1.85 on the Scorchers.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 25-30 runs/6 wickets