Our prediction is Melbourne Renegades to win!
Match 52 of the Big Bash League pits two sides who are will feature in the semi-finals against one another as the Hobart Hurricanes host the Melbourne Renegades.
The Hurricanes need one more win to secure a home semi-final. The Renegades, meanwhile, are striving for the same, but they need at least one more win to put themselves in with a chance.
These two sides met at Hobart in the opening game of last season and on that occasion the Renegades ran out seven-wicket winners after limiting the powerful Hurricanes batting line-up to just 164-8. Now further into the competition, they will find things harder in this match as the home side have been outstanding during this year’s competition and sit two points clear at the top of the table.
Over the course of the BBL, the Renegades have dominated this encounter, with six wins to the Hurricanes’ two – including a six-wicket victory at the Docklands earlier this season. The Hurricanes have only ever beaten the Renegades once at their home venue.
The Hurricanes come into this match on the back of a slight downturn in form, having lost two of their last three matches. They were beaten by Sydney Sixers and Adelaide Strikers, the latter of those games coming at home. However, in between that, they thumped Brisbane Heat by nine wickets and they will be desperate to bounce back again, particularly against a team that they could face again in the semi-finals.
The retirement of Johan Botha forced them to make changes to their line-up and Jarrod Freeman and David Moody have come in and performed well, but the Hurricanes could welcome back Tim Paine into their line-up if they want – provided he makes himself available after the Test series against Sri Lanka.
If Short continues his record of scoring a half-century every other innings, the Hurricanes will be very happy but with Matthew Wade having hit three scores of 50 or more in the last four matches, they have plenty of firepower if he doesn’t come off.
Matthew Wade (c, wk), D’Arcy Short, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Jofra Archer, Clive Rose, Jarrod Freeman, David Moody.
The Renegades booked their place in the semi-finals with a run of three straight victories as they beat Sydney Thunder home and away and beat the Perth Scorchers on the road as well. Another away game should not concern them as they bid to seal a home semi-final.
Their all-round game has been strong, and it is one of the reasons they are still in contention for overall glory. Against the Thunder on a slow, grippy pitch, it was Cameron Boyce who stepped up with an unbeaten half-century. Against the Scorchers, Daniel Christian took four wickets and Chris Tremain three after Aaron Finch’s half-century had seen off the Thunder one game earlier.
There is good news for them in that opener Marcus Harris returns after sitting on the sidelines as Australia hammered Sri Lanka and he should open the batting alongside Aaron Finch, meaning Beau Webster will probably sit this one out.
Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Tom Cooper, Sam Harper (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Daniel Christian, Cameron Boyce, Kane Richardson, Chris Tremain, Harry Gurney.
The weather forecast in the coming days in Hobart is variable. A dry spell in the early part of the week is scheduled to give way to rain late on Wednesday which continues into Thursday. The rain may clear by the time the game gets underway in the evening, but it certainly threatens to slow the pitch down and make run-scoring difficult even if it does not interrupt proceedings.
The Blundstone Arena – also known as the Bellerive Oval – has now hosted 33 domestic Twenty20 matches with neither batting first nor second having a clear advantage although this season the side chasing has prevailed each time. The average score batting first is 166 and this season the team batting first has scored on average 165.
With a perfect record for sides chasing at the Blundstone Arena this season, you would expect both captains to have their eye on inviting their opponents to bat first – particularly with bad weather around. The Hurricanes have always batting second after winning the toss at home and the Renegades can be expected to do the same – although they batted first last time out, that was on a slow pitch. They have otherwise been happy enough to chase.
The prospect of a home semi-final will drive both of these teams to put in a strong performance and as both have qualified for the semi-finals, they will want to put a marker down ahead of any potential rematch in a few days. The Renegades come into this match in great form, with players in good nick and the return of Harris is a welcome boost. The Hurricanes have faltered slightly in recent weeks and we see this as the chance for the Renegades to build on their outstanding record against the Hurricanes with another win.
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