Our prediction is Melbourne Renegades to win.
Match 35 of the Big Bash League is the second edition of the Melbourne derby with a resurgent Renegades side hosting the Stars, who have struggled in recent matches – not helped by losing four players to international duty. Earlier in the season, the Stars ran out winners by seven wickets with Marcus Stoinis in the runs and Dwayne Bravo in the wickets. They have won just once since then, however, which explains why the Renegades are well ahead of them in the table.
When the Renegades hosted the Stars at this venue last season, it was again the Stars who prevailed, this time by 23 runs but it will be a very different set of players on show in this match. The Stars dominate the head-to-head with 10 wins to four since the start of the BBL and have only lost to the Renegades once at the Marvel Stadium.
The Melbourne derbies are always worth watching and with the prospect of Cricket Australia allowing some of their ODI squad players to feature in this one, it ought to be no exception.
The Renegades come into this match on a run of three wins in four and are well and truly over the losing run that put them in trouble earlier in the tournament. Wins over the Hobart Hurricanes, Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers have left them looking down on most of their opponents and they will want to stay there.
A huge boost for them is the return of Aaron Finch and despite captaining Australia in the ODI series against India, he will start – and then be available from then on after he was dropped from the Test squad. Chris Tremain and Jon Holland are absent on CA XI duty but neither has played a game so far in the tournament.
Finch’s return presents something of a dilemma as most of the top order have made good scores in recent games so accommodating him could see Cameron White drop out again – despite his match-finishing cameo against the Sixers – or Marcus Harris may be rested.
Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Harris, Tom Cooper, Sam Harper (wk), Mohammad Nabi, McKenzie Harvey, Dan Christian, Jack Wildermuth, Cameron Boyce, Kane Richardson, Harry Gurney
Aaron Finch, Sam Harper, TLW Cooper, JD Wildermuth, KW Richardson, CL White, Mohammad Nabi, Harry Gurney, Cameron Boyce, Marcus Harris, DT Christian
Any team would struggle if you take out Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb, Stoinis and Adam Zampa, and that is exactly what has happened for the Stars. They have also had to cope without Sandeep Lamichhane, whose value to them has become more apparent since his departure to the Bangladesh Premier League.
However, there is good news in that some of the four Australian internationals are expected to feature in this match. Cricket Australia will confirm how many of them will play closer to the game. That is a massive boost for the Stars who have now lost their last three matches, falling to defeats against Perth Scorchers, Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes.
The call-ups considerably weakened the batting and they badly need their big names to put some big runs on the board to have a chance. Scott Boland remains absent as he is playing for the CA XI against the Sri Lankans – another call-up the Renegades could have done without.
Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk, Glenn Maxwell (c), Nic Maddinson, Seb Gotch (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Marcus Stoinis, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Tom O’Connell, Liam Bowe
Dwayne Bravo, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Nic Maddinson, Tom O'Connell, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk, Glenn Maxwell
It is due to be hot and wet in Melbourne during the latter part of the week but will dry up in time for the match. The Docklands Stadium pitch has been unpredictable this season and much slower than expected. Even Renegades coach Andrew McDonald admitted recently it hasn’t been at its best.
The Docklands Stadium has now hosted 34 domestic Twenty20 matches and the side batting second has won 19 of those matches with those setting a target winning 14. There is a 50-50 split during the four matches played this season. The average score batting first is 156 but this season, that has dropped to 143. The Renegades have won 12 matches here, losing 19.
The Renegades have won the toss eight times this season, and on each occasion have chosen to field first. The Stars have won the toss five times and also bowled first every time. With the Docklands pitch playing unpredictably, it seems obvious that both sides will want to chase and let the others try to work out what a winning score is.
The Stars are in a massive slump at the moment and their lack of squad depth has been exposed in recent matches. The Renegades, on the other hand, have barely seen Finch all season, will lose Marcus Harris again, and only recently brought back Nic Maddinson after injury. With Finch available for this match, they may never have a better chance to do something about their losing run against the Stars and at this stadium.
Our prediction is Melbourne Renegades to win!
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