Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 7.10pm AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Watch on Network Ten
Melbourne Renegades: Fourth
Sydney Sixers: Second
Melbourne Renegades: 1-0
Sydney Sixers: 1-1
THE rivalry between Victoria and New South Wales heats up when the Melbourne Renegades welcome the Sydney Sixers to Etihad Stadium for their Big Bash League clash on Wednesday night.
And this one has all the makings of a classic.
The Sixers ($2.15 with sportsbet.com.au) have split their first two games of the season, while the Renegades are a perfect one from one and will be looking to keep their unbeaten record in tact on their home deck.
The ‘Gades got home in a canter against the Brisbane Heat, claiming a seven wicket win after holding their northern rivals to 5/180 off their allotted 20 overs on a Gabba deck that was perfect for batting.
Xavier Doherty was the only multiple wicket taker for the Renegades, with 2/29 off his four overs, while opening seamers Chris Tremaine and Nathan Rimmington flew the flag with 1/32 and 1/33 respectively.
In reply, the dynamic opening partnership of Aaron Finch and Chris Gayle got a start, but didn’t quite deliver during its first union.
The pair put on 38 off 25 balls before Gayle was sent packing for 23 of 16 balls, with two fours and two sixes.
But that brought Finch and the big hitting Cameron White together and that pair put together a match winning 111-run partnership, which was broken when the former was removed for 65 off 45 balls, with six fours and three sixes.
White departed straight after – for 55 off 41 balls with four fours and a six – leaving Matty Wade (11 off six) and Dwayne Bravo – whose 22 off nine balls featured two monster blows.
They finished on 184 with three balls to spare.
It was a night of records for the two opening batsmen, Finch becoming the first man on the planet to surpass the 1000 run mark in the Big Bash League, while Gayle became the only man in history to crack 600 sixes – not a bad way to club 3600 runs.
The giant West Indian unveiled a new golden bat, which was a rather impressive addition to the towering, dread locked Calypso King’s match attire.
“It was the first time (I used the gold bat),” Gayle told News Limited after the match.
“It was a bit scary at first.
“I said, ‘OK there’s a lot of tension and a lot of eyes are going to be on you, Gayle. I hope you don’t get a golden duck’.
“Was it two sixes (I hit)? I didn’t get much of it, I promise you.
“I was going to change the bat after the over, but I got out.”
The laid back Gayle has an unabashed fan in his captain.
“He’s been excellent,” Finch said.
“For how destructive he is he doesn’t get enough credit for how well-planned and well-prepared he is.
“He knows his opposition inside-out and targets particular bowlers.
“He’s been awesome around the group (and given) a lot of advice for young guys in the squad, particularly the bowlers just with how he thinks as a batsman.
“You always get a bit of flare from the Caribbean boys, they bring a lot of entertainment to the game (and) a lot of big smiles.”
He will want to know the Sixers well, after they fought back from their first ever loss to arch rival Sydney Thunder with a crushing 95 run win over tournament favourites the Hobart Hurricanes.
While disappointed to lose to the Thunder, the Sixers resumed regular transition with the clinical disposal of the ‘Canes.
They rattled off 7/186, thanks largely to a blistering 72 off 45 balls from former Aussie test wicket keeper Brad Haddin, with 41 off 25 from Jordan Silk and 21 off 11 form Nic Maddinson.
And then Australia’s premier spin bowler Nathan Lyon picked the Hurricanes apart with an almost unplayable 5/23 off 3.5 overs as Hobart was skittles for just 91. Former Australian T20 captain George Bailey was remarkably left stranded on 62 off 45 balls as not one team mate reached double figures.
Old man Haddin, at 38, has been around the block plenty of times, and his fearlessness makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the entire Big Bash League – even if he is battling a knee injury.
“I’m just old,’’ he quipped when asked about his injury after the game.
“I went to turn and I was a bit short (of the crease), my spikes (dug in), I went to go again and something just got caught at the back of my leg.
“It felt alright out there while keeping.
“I’ll be right Wednesday night.
“It’s a big game.
“I watched the Renegades (on Saturday night), they’re a very good side, they bat a long way down, so it will be a big task.’’
The last time these two teams played, the Sixers did the business easily against a vastly different side.
The Gades made 7/154 on the back of the injured Callum Ferguson’s 40 and Wade’s 35, restricted well by Brett Lee (2/21) – now retired – and Sean Abbott (2/20).
In reply, the Sixers did it on the bit, cruising to 2/155 on the back of a blazing unbeaten innings of 84 from Nic Maddinson and 36 from Moises Henriquez, who is now at the Melbourne Stars.
One thing that hurts the Sixers is first game hero Lyon won’t be available for this game, making it even tougher for Sydney to make an impact with the ball.
Melbourne Renegades: Thomas Beaton, Dwayne Bravo, Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Chris Gayle, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Guy Walker, Cameron White, Nick Winter
Sydney Sixers: Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, Johan Botha, Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshius, Michael Edwards, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Trent Lawford, Michael Lumb, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Stephen O’Keefe, Jordan Silk, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc
Match result: Melbourne Renegades win ($1.67 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Highest opening partnership: Melbourne Renegades ($1.72 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Most sixes: Melbourne Renegades ($1.60 with WilliamHill.com.au)
The Renegades batting looks absolutely stacked. And, even without star Australian seamers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, the reds bowling attack is still formidable. The Sixers are also there abouts, but you get the feeling that after a loss to cross town rivals Sydney Thunder, they might just be on the slide slightly. They did murder the Hurricanes, but that was largely thanks to a remarkable performance from the best spinner in the country. No Lyon, especially on the spin friendly Etihad deck, spells trouble for the Sixers. If Sydney gets off the leash, the likes of Haddin, Maddinson and Lumb can put together a big total, but we’re going with the most explosive opening partnership in the Big Bash in Gayle and Finch to get the job done at the top. We’re also never tipping against a side that contains Gayle, Finch and Bravo in the most sixes market. It just wouldn’t be smart.
Top run scorer predictions
Chris Gayle ($3.25 with Sportsbet.com.au)
The man with the golden bat is one of the most flamboyant cricketers in the world. And perhaps the best T20 batsman alive. He can win a game in an over. Reckons he didn’t hit one ball out of the screws in his last match, but still plundered two sixes and two fours in his 23. Will want to churn out a bigger score in this one to keep Finchy honest at the other end.
Dwayne Bravo ($8.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
We’re going with the Renegades other Calypso King to lead the side’s run scoring and, if he gets the chance, he will do it very quickly. Maybe not as quickly as Gayle, but few can match that. Showed a glimpse of what he is capable of against the Brisbane Heat with 22 off just nine balls. If one of those gun top order men fails, it sets it up for a big score from Bravo.
Nick Maddinson ($4 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Maddinson is one of the better T20 batsmen in Australia and he showed that last time he took on the Renegades when he hammered a blistering unbeaten 84. Finished third on the Big Bash League run scorers’ table last season with 284 runs at 31.55 and looked good against the Hurricanes before surrendering his wicket. This guy must bat well if they are going to win.
Jordan Silk ($9.50 with sportsbet.com.au)
Another blazong T20 batsman who finished just one below his team mate Maddinson in the scorers’ list last year, with 272 at 54.4. An expert at rescuing an innings, Silk’s powers of concentration and ability to still send the ball to the boundary are unmatched when whips are cracking.
Top wicket taker predictions
Xavier Doherty ($5 with sportsbet.com.au)
Doherty loves the spinning decks at Etihad and has started the season well with two wickets in his first outing. Is still the number one one day and T20 spinner in the country, but will be desperate to perform to keep both Lyon and O’Keefe at bay. He only took four wickets in six matches last year, so he will be keen to build on the pair he nabbed in the opening round.
Dwayne Bravo ($3.25 with sportsbet.com.au)
We’re backing Bravo in to do the double in this match. Multi talented and an expert at T20 bowling, The Windies could do with his expertise in the Boxing Day Test on Saturday. But their loss is the Big Bash League’s gain. If he does manage a bag through the middle overs, expect some of the better celebrations you will see on a cricket pitch.
Steve O’Keefe ($4.33 with sportsbet.com.au)
This is a battle of the Aussie spinners, with O’Keefe third in the pecking order behind Lyon and his current opponent Doherty (with apologies to Nathan Hauritz). It is hard to believe the baby faced O’Keefe is 31 years old, but there’s no doubt he has some serious talent that just hasn’t quite translated on the international stage. Any way, without Lyon, he probably gets the new ball and that gives him a chance to take a bag.
Moises Henriquez ($5.50 with sportsbet.com.au)
Another all rounder, similar to Bravo, who, when given the chance, can have a big impact. Only nabbed five wickets from his 24 overs last season, which doesn’t exactly engender huge faith, but we’re backing him in to make an impact for the Sixers if he gets thrown the ball.
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