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BBL Preview: 11 January – 13 January

With COVID still causing havoc on the Big Bash League and all eight teams relocated to Melbourne despite some games still happening interstate, the battle for finals places is heating up. 

Here is the pick of the mid-week games. 

Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Sixers (Tuesday, January 11, 7:15pm, Geelong) 

Just when it looked like the Melbourne Renegades were on the improve and primed for a shot at playing finals cricket, they rolled out in their last start with a demoralising loss to the Sydney Thunder. 

This clash against the high-flying Sixers though will be critical to their chances moving forward, and one that, despite their three and six record, they aren’t without hope in as they push to continue their march from the bottom of the table. 

The Renegades currently sit sixth, but equal on points with the fifth-placed Brisbane Heat, however, with both the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Stars snapping at their heels, this shapes as a game which could be critical to the final make-up of the finals series. 

The Sydney Sixers, on the other hand, have hit the skids. They have fallen from second to third, forced to settle for a washout against the Renegades on New Year’s Day with an unconvincing win over the Brisbane Heat and pair of losses to the Perth Scorchers on either side of that. 

What the Sixers need more than anything is their experienced starts to ghet back to their best, while Josh Philippe, who has 327 runs at 40.87 with a strike rate of almost 150 for the season, must get back to his best. Compare that to the Renegades leading run-scorer in Mackenzie Harvey, who has just 216 runs at 30.85 with a strike rate of 115, and it’s clear to see the difference which exists between these two sides. 

COVID may yet play its part, but the Sixers should win this. 

 Our best bet: Sydney Sixers win $1.60 at PlayUp

Brisbane Heat vs Adelaide Strikers (Wednesday, January 12, 7:15pm, Brisbane) 

The Brisbane Heat will look to cling onto a place in the top five on Wednesday evening back at home against the Adelaide Strikers in a match which shapes as one of the most important of the back end to the season. 

With all teams now having between three and six games left to play, every single point is critical, and none more so than in this game with the Heat currently in fifth spot on 15 points, and the Strikers in seventh on 13. A win for the Strikers, provided the Renegades lose to the Sixers on Tuesday, would move them into a provisional finals spot under the BBL’s top-five format. 

Neither of these teams, both impacted by COVID, have been setting the world on fire in recent times, with the Heat losing their last two games to the Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Renegades, while the Strikers lost on Monday evening to the Melbourne Stars, making it seven losses in their last eight matches. 

The Strikers have had enormous problems with their bowling. Outside of knocking the Hobart Hurricanes over for 126 in their most recent victory, they have conceded more than 140 in every match during their losing run. If they can’t get that right, then they will be picked to pieces given the potential of the Heat batting, led by Sam Heazlett, who has 246 runs for the season, but backed up by Chris Lynn, who is hitting the ball cleanly but has been unable to make big scores.  

The Strikers batting, outside of the impact of Jono Wells, hasn’t been good enough, with their middle order faltering, and it’s hard to see them winning at the Gabba.  

Sydney Thunder vs Hobart Hurricanes (Thursday, January 13, 3:45pm, Docklands) 

The Sydney Thunder are the team who have displaced the Sydney Sixers in the top two on the back of an excellent run of form. They have now won six in a row since their last loss to the Sixers, and have done so in dominant fashion. 

This match against the Hurricanes, relocated to Melbourne, will be the second clash between the sides on the trot, with the Thunder winning by nine wickets with 16 balls to spare on Monday. Their form has, simply put, been something special as they build towards the finals, and they have been barely challenged with the bat, despite playing three games in five days including Monday. 

Their prior two games saw them score 209 against the Renegades, and chase down 133 in just 17 overs against the Scorchers. English opener Alex Hales has made all the difference in recent matches, and made 80 off just 56 balls against the Hurricanes on Monday, while Gurinder Sandhu’s form with the ball has also been strong. 

On the other foot, the Hurricanes currently sit fourth and would like another win to push them away from dropping out of the finals. They have struggled for consistency though, regularly relying on big individual performances, with two of their wins coming on the back of Ben McDermott’s big hitting. Matthew Wade pulling out of the move to Melbourne has cost the Hurricanes, and the remainder of their batting order has lacked the flow to put teams under pressure. 

That said, their bowlers, led by Sandeep Lamichhane, are competitive, but they are unlikely to be good enough to stop the Thunder from walking all over them again. 

Our best bet: Sydney Thunder win $1.52 at PlayUp


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