Man of the Match: Steven Smith
Sydney Sixers look likely to pile more agony on Melbourne Renegades!
Sydney Sixers to win this game!
It is nearly time for the business end of the Big Bash League with each team having just one or two games left to be played. Saturday’s game will see the hosts Sydney Sixers taking on the bottom-placed Melbourne Renegades.
Although Melbourne Renegades are totally out of contention for the play-offs, as always the bottom-placed team can spoil the party for the rest of the sides. With the BBL adopting an interesting play-off tournament, it is desirable for teams to finish as high as possible on the points table. This is exactly what Sydney Sixers will also be thinking about as they could guarantee a second shot at making the final by finishing in the top two spots. While Melbourne Stars have sealed the top-spot, there is still competition for second place with Adelaide Strikers having 13 points while also having an extra game in hand. Sydney Sixers, on their own, will be pretty confident since they are coming on the back of an impressive victory against Brisbane Heat. To start off, the Sixers bowling attack never let Brisbane Heat begin the match on a good note.
The likes of Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, and Steve O’Keefe all struck in the first few overs to reduce Heat to a paltry 57-5. From there on, AB de Villiers and James Pattinson tried to get their team to a respectable total but Tom Curran along with Ben Dwarshuis was brilliant to restrict Heat to an eventual score of 126-8. Even under normal circumstances, that score wasn’t going to be enough and the opening pair of Josh Philippe and James Vince only made matters worse with a 75-run partnership. Although Vince got dismissed thereafter, Sydney coasted home with 25 balls to spare.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Renegades found themselves on the wrong side of the coin when they went down against Hobart Hurricanes by a slender 4-run margin. Truth be told, Melbourne Renegades’ bowlers with the exception of Cameron Boyce and Mohammad Nabi leaked too many runs to allow Hobart to get 190-3. While it was always going to be a challenging chase, the trio of Shaun Marsh, Beau Webster and Mohammad Nabi kept Renegades in the hunt right until the final over of the match. Nabi, particularly was very impressive as brought down the equation to 12 runs required off eight balls. However, with Nathan Ellis bowling impressively, Renegades lost by the tiniest of margins.
Young wicket-keeper batsman Josh Philippe continued to impress as he scored an unbeaten half-century to guide his team to a comfortable victory against Brisbane Heat. This knock increased his tally for the season to 340 runs which also makes him the top run-getter for his side. After impressing with a slew of stars, James Vince also finally converted one such effort into a milestone to provide more confidence for the Sixers.
With Steve Smith in the team along with other experienced campaigners like Moises Henriques and Daniel Hughes, the team’s batting line-up looks pretty solid. As far as the bowling is concerned, there is no stopping Tom Curran as he remains as the highest wicket-taker for the side with 19 scalps. Although wickets have been scarce from the other bowlers, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe form a respectable attack.
Josh Philippe (WK), James Vince, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques (C), Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Tom Curran, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Steve O’Keefe
Steve O'Keefe, Nathan Lyon, B Dwarshuis, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, Tom Curran, James Vince, Steven Smith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Hughes, Josh Hazlewood
In spite of their barren form, Melbourne Renegades still possess two of the league’s most in-form batsmen in the duo of Shaun Marsh and Beau Webster. With 449 and 405 runs to their name, it isn’t surprising that Marsh and Webster occupy the second and fourth spots respectively in the top run-getters list. Yet, the supporting cast has been disappointing with Sam Harper the next best batter with 279 runs. One feels that Mohammad Nabi’s addition to the team and his own return to form with the bat came too late. The story is more or less the same with the bowling attack too. The leading wicket-taker is Cameron Boyce with 13 scalps while Kane Richardson who is likely to return for this match has ten victims to his credit.
Apart from the duo, Renegades have a very defensive bowling attack as even Mohammad Nabi has never been a prolific wicket-taker. If their poor form wasn’t enough, Sam Harper is unlikely to play while Shaun Marsh was ruled out for the season after suffering injuries in the match against Hobart Hurricanes.
Aaron Finch (C), Marcus Harris, Tom Cooper (WK), Beau Webster, Mohammad Nabi, Daniel Christian, Samit Patel, Will Sutherland, Jack Wildermuth, Cameron Boyce, Kane Richardson
Aaron Finch, Brayden Stepien, TLW Cooper, KW Richardson, SR Patel, Mohammad Nabi, Cameron Boyce, Nathan McSweeney, BJ Webster, DT Christian, Will Sutherland
The nature of the tracks at the SCG is pretty well known as it often provides a lot more help to spinners than any other venue in Australia. However, it has been more than three weeks since a full 40 overs game has been played at the SCG. So, it will be interesting to see how the pitch will behave for this game. Like the last few matches at this ground, this game could also be interrupted by rain as there is a 40% chance for precipitation. Overall too, Saturday is expected to be cloudy throughout.
The Sydney Cricket Ground has hosted five games so far with the hosts winning three of those fixtures. As mentioned above, the spinners will enjoy bowling here but an early season game against Brisbane Heat showed that there is runs for the taking too. Brisbane’s 209-4 is still the best total that has been posted at this ground this season.
When there is rain, always choose to field first. The DLS method is heavily inclined to the team which bats second and this should definitely be on the minds of both Moises Henriques and Aaron Finch. The effectiveness of the spinners in the second inning might also be negated if there is rain in the offing.
We are going to go with the safe option of backing the in-form side and that is clearly Sydney Sixers.
With Melbourne Renegades not possessing the most fearsome bowling attack, any one from the Sixers’ top-order could come up with a big knock to dominate Melbourne Renegades. Melbourne’s best option might be to bowl first and restrict the opposition batsmen under normal conditions.
Sydney Sixers to win this game!