MELBOURNE RENEGADES v SYDNEY THUNDER
The KFC Big Bash season six is just two games old and the excitement is slowly building up. Champions Sydney Thunder got off to a bad start losing to cross-town opponents Sixers and then Brisbane Heat got the better of Melbourne Renegades by ten runs in a close encounter. We now move to the Etihad Stadium on Thursday, December 22 where Melbourne Renegades will be up against the Thunder.
The Renegades have never had a good season in the BBL except the second year where they reached semi-finals. Last season they finished just outside the top four places although they didn’t impress enough to warrant a final four chance.
Thunder come on the back of an impressive season last year where they were Champions. But their title defence got off to a disastrous start as they went down to Sixers in the tournament opener.
The hosts have fiery opener Aaron Finch leading the line for them, who on his day can be a destructive presence for any opponent. They went for a makeover in the off-season and their foreign contingent now gives them a perfect balance. Dwayne Bravo is a great addition while Sunil Narine still carries the mystery element with the ball.
The biggest positive comes in the form of back-to-fit James Pattinson. The capture of Brad Hogg for the season could be a master stroke too – both in the dug-out and on the field.
Thunder had a batting brain-freeze in the first match where they had Ryan Gibson to thank for a decent total. Eoin Morgan looked great during his short innings but there was no plausible explanation to their middle-order collapse. With the ball too, they looked short of penetration and the absence of Australian first-teamers looked to hamper their balance.
Morgan will once again be crucial for the Thunder considering that Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson will miss this tie too. The team will look to coax more out of Andre Russell – especially his hitting abilities down the order. It would be a suicidal start if they lose two in a row which means more pressure on Ben Rohrer and Jake Doran to deliver with the bat.
Melbourne will be looking at replacing Chris Gayle – although the West Indian was inconsistent the entire last season. Keep an eye on Marcus Harris who could be a smart replacement for Gayle although not at the same destructive level. He could be their best bat at odds of 5.00.
Morgan looked really good till he got out. The England ODI captain could be a good punt to end up Thunder’s best batsman. At odds of 4.25, Morgan looks a decent pick.
Thunder will know that another loss could make their title defence awkward – although it’s too early to knock off their chances. Renegades look really balanced but backing Thunder to win at odds of 2.45 looks a worthy punt.