We’re now at the crucial stages of the tournament where lower-ranked sides are desperately making one last push to the finish line before the door completely closes on their finals aspirations. More so for the Sydney Thunder, who must win this match comprehensively to cling onto fourth spot.
The Thunder still remain optimistic despite the enormous task at hand in order to seal a finals birth in this seasons BBL. Their NRR situation is the killer, with one match remaining against their opposition who are also competing for that final spot in the BBL playoffs, the Thunder will have to absolutely dismantle the Melbourne Renegades in Canberra tomorrow evening. To make matters worse for the hosting side, they’ll be without two of their key batsmen in the line-up, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson who have both been ruled out with injuries. Those two omissions will put a lot of pressure on both James Vince and Shane Watson to contribute a healthy amount of runs at Manuka Oval tomorrow, maybe even majority of the total given how unreliable their middle-lower order have been.
While James Vince has been a handy inclusion for the Thunder in his two games in BBL 07 so far, Sydney will look to Shane Watson who is both the leader & powerhouse batsman in the team which will definitely require some inspiration if they are to go any further in the tournament. The former Australian all-rounder has played some superb cricket in the competition, a match-winning 77 in the Sydney smash as well as a rampaging 56 up at the Gabba against the Heat in tough conditions. In Khawaja’s absence, Kurtis Patterson should return to the top of the order while Aiden Blizzard looks set to take his position in the middle order in place of the hamstrung-Ferguson. The Thunder now lack some serious batting power, making it a uphill battle as they face off against the Renegades.
The Canberra surface isn’t expected to do any favors for the bowlers, it’s usually one of the more flatter wickets in the country which should make life difficult for both teams. My best bet would be the spinners having the most impact, the ball should either hold up or slide on which brings Chris Green and Fawad Ahmed into the game. Green is fast-becoming the Sydney Thunders most improved player since his addition to the squad, difficult to score runs off whilst taking wickets along the way. If Green has been impressive, Fawad Ahmed has been the Thunders ultra-consistent & most reliable wicket taker in BBL 07 to date. Eleven wickets may not sound like that much, but for a spinner he’s been phenomenal during periods where batsmen have been finding it easy to score. Black Caps quick Mitchell McClenaghan made a lasting impression at the start of the tournament taking multiple wickets in four-consecutive matches, unfortunately he’s fallen off the pace ever since.
Out of these two teams, the Melbourne Renegades sit in a commanding position with two games left in their fixture as well as a healthy NRR to go along with it. With that being said, the Renegades can’t afford to get complacent, there’s still every chance they could lose these next two games if they don’t have a level-headed approach. The absence of opposition batting-dynamo Usman Khawaja should increase their chances of winning though, that man has taken down some teams single-handedly in the past and will be a massive loss for the hosts. In their most recent game against the Strikers at home, the Renegades really under-performed in a match that could have almost-certainly sealed a BBL finals birth if they were up for the challenge.
With a batting track expected to favor the batsmen significantly, this is the Renegades chance to show the competition just how damaging they can be when it comes to blowing away an opposition team. They’ll lose skipper Cameron White yet again due to International duties, meaning Brad Hodge will captain the side which isn’t exactly a bad thing. The 43-year-old veteran shown everyone he’s still got what it takes to contribute at this level, launching three-gigantic sixes late in the game in a losing cause, nevertheless it was entertaining stuff. The addition of Kieron Pollard should really give the Renegades that X factor in the middle order, they already have a strong-contingent of aggressive stroke players which should fall in their favor in Canberra. Tom Cooper again looked in excellent touch before being dismissed the other night against the Strikers, so expect him to play a key role tomorrow for the Renegades.
As well as being a key asset with the willow, Tom Cooper might be Melbourne’s most efficient bowler on a pitch such as Manuka Oval. It’s a batsman’s paradise due to the flatness of the surface, but slow bowling can be equally as effective if the likes of Cooper can hone in on a specific area consistently. The fast bowlers might be in for a bit of a drubbing, so the spinners will be heavily relied upon to breakthrough at regular intervals. Even the spinners might cop a bit of a shellacking, but wickets on the board will be just as crucial as runs if some key stroke-makers are dismissed early. Dwayne Bravo is the kind of bowler who should trouble the batsmen on this wicket, his change up deliveries have forced numerous errors out of opposition teams this season. The ever-green Brad Hogg is finally starting to show some wear in his old age, but the saying “never write off a champion” shouldn’t be forgotten. Hogg has been dispatched by the Stars, Scorchers and Strikers in his past four outings, so there is some added pressure on him to perform before it’s too late.
Top 4 fantasy picks | Sydney Thunder | BBL | 37th match | Canberra
- James Vince
- Shane Watson
- Fawad Ahmed
- Chris Green
Wildcard pick – Aiden Blizzard
Top 4 fantasy picks | Melbourne Renegades | BBL | 37th match | Canberra
- Tom Cooper
- Tim Ludeman
- Dwayne Bravo
- Marcus Harris
Wildcard pick – Kieron Pollard
Sydney Thunder (possible) – 1. Kurtis Patterson 2. James Vince 3. Shane Watson (c) 4. Ben Rohrer 5. Aiden Blizzard 6. Arjun Nair 7. Chris Green 8. Jay Lenton (wk) 9. Gurinder Sandhu 10. Mitchell McClenaghan 11. Fawad Ahmed.
Melbourne Renegades (possible) – 1. Marcus Harris 2. Tim Ludeman (wk) 3. Matt Short 4. Tom Cooper 5. Kieron Pollard 6. Dwayne Bravo 7. Beau Webster/Mackenzie Harvey 8. Jack Wildermuth 9. Chris Tremain 10. Kane Richardson/Jon Holland 11. Brad Hogg.