Man of the Match: DT Christian
Melbourne Renegades to win
Our prediction is Melbourne Renegades to win!
The second Big Bash League semi-final sees the sides that finished second and third in the table come up against one another at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. There was no corresponding fixture last season as they met at Geelong – where the Renegades won – but in the third game of this season, the Renegades hosted the Sixers at the Marvel Stadium, and lost by 33 runs.
Over the course of BBL history, this has been a close rivalry with the Sixers leading the head-to-head 5-4 and both sides sharing two wins in the last four match-ups. At this stadium, however, the Sixers have a 3-1 winning record and they come into this match on the back of heavy loss following a four-match winning streak. Similarly, the Renegades also lost their final group game having won the three before that.
The Renegades were reasonably consistent throughout the BBL league phase, overcoming an early blip of three losses in a row to stay in contention. Consecutive victories in the closing stages over Sydney Thunder (home and away) and Perth Scorchers confirmed their place in the semi-finals but they will have been disappointed to go down by 16 runs to the Hobart Hurricanes in their final league match.
Aaron Finch’s return to the side has been a huge boost, as has the return to form of the likes of Tom Cooper and Daniel Christian. The Renegades side relies heavily on its experienced players with contributions from Cameron Boyce and Sam Harper also helping them through on occasion, not to mention Richardson’s wickets.
They will, however, have to make do without Mohammad Nabi, who is away on international duty with Afghanistan. They could either bring back Cameron White or Beau Webster if they want to strengthen their batting, or turn to another bowling option with Jon Holland, Joe Mennie or Kelvin Davis options to come in. As Nabi has now bowled much this season, expect White or Jack Wildermuth to be given the nod.
Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Tom Cooper, Cameron White, Sam Harper (wk), Daniel Christian, Cameron Boyce, Chris Tremain, Kane Richardson, Harry Gurney.
Aaron Finch, CP Tremain, Sam Harper, TLW Cooper, Mackenzie Harvey, KW Richardson, CL White, Harry Gurney, Cameron Boyce, Marcus Harris, DT Christian
The Sixers come into this match smarting from being spanked by 94 runs by the Melbourne Stars, a loss which cost them a shot at hosting this semi-final. Prior to that, they had beaten Brisbane Heat, Hobart Hurricanes, Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder in their last four league matches – quite a record and one which should fill them with some confidence ahead of this game.
Daniel Hughes, James Vince and Moises Henriques have been in great form at the top of the order and they will be hoping that the collapse against the Stars was a one-off. They would have expected to be at full strength for the semi-finals with Nathan Lyon back and might not have made any changes but for Tom Curran’s late call-up to the England tour of the West Indies.
It leaves them short of options as their pace bowling attack has been so consistent that none of the fast bowlers on the sidelines has featured except for Greg West on one occasion. He could be set for a recall as the side already has plenty of spin options, although Ben Manenti could come back and Henriques mightback himself to bowl some extra overs if required.
Daniel Hughes, Josh Philippe (wk), James Vince, Moises Henriques (c), Jordan Silk, Ben Manenti, Sean Abbott, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Dwarshius, Nathan Lyon, Lloyd Pope.
Steve O'Keefe, Mickey Edwards, Nathan Lyon, Jack Edwards, B Dwarshuis, James Vince, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, Josh Philippe, Daniel Hughes, Sean Abbott
It is going to be warm and dry all week in Melbourne, with temperatures rising as the game approaches. That is good news as it means there should be no rain interruptions and added height might just add some firmness to the wicket.
The Marvel Stadium, also known as the Docklands Stadium, has now hosted 35 domestic Twenty20 matches with the side batting second winning 20 times to the 15 times the side batting first wins. The average score batting first is 154. However, this season, run-scoring has been much lower with an average score of just 128.
The Renegades have won twice at home this season already by batting second but have not been afraid to bat first in front of their home fans on occasion. If they are greeted with a slow and grippy pitch they might try that once again. The Sixers, meanwhile, have fielded each time they have won the toss this season – but they won batting first here earlier in the campaign.
These two have never met outside of the group stage of the competition so this is new territory for all involved. Both will have to cope with late absentees. While the Renegades will miss Nabi’s power with the bat and should be able to cover that by recalling White or Wildermuth, Curran’s excellence at the death could prove harder for the Sixers to compensate for.
Nevertheless, the Sixers have an excellent record at this venue including that win earlier in the tournament. Then you must consider that the Renegades have beaten the Hurricanes and the Stars here, so they clearly have what it takes to raise their game. This is a tight one and it could come down to the experienced heads on the day – we just give the edge to the Renegades.
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