Brisbane Heat would look to get their Big Bash League 2020-21 campaign back on track when they take on Melbourne Renegades at the Manuka Oval, Canberra on Thursday (January 14). The Heat were on a three-match winning streak before they lost to Sydney Sixers in a close encounter. Meanwhile, the Renegades got the better of Adelaide Strikers in their last game but are currently at the bottom of the points table.
This game was previously supposed to happen at the Marvel Stadium, which has now been moved to the Manuka Oval due to COVID-19-enforced border closures.
RENEGADES, HEAT BID FAREWELL TO THEIR AFGHANISTAN IMPORTS
Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb ur Rahman, who have been named in Afghanistan's squad that will face Ireland in three ODIs from January 21, will take no further part in this season. Nabi, who was named player of the match for his phenomenal 71 not out against the Strikers, has already left for the UAE. The veteran allrounder didn't have a great season, having scored 149 runs at 24.83 in seven encounters. The offspinner only managed four wickets and leaked runs at an economy of 9.33.
Nabi was just starting to get going and his departure would come as a huge loss for Melbourne who have won only two of their nine games. Shaun Marsh however is expected to make his return after not featuring in the last two games because of the birth of his third child.
Mujeeb however was phenomenal for Brisbane. The offspinner registered career-best bowling figures of 5/15 against Hobart Hurricanes and finished with 14 wickets in eight matches. Mujeeb was originally set to take the field against the Renegades but later received updated travel arrangements from the Afghanistan team management. “Unfortunately, he had to leave a little sooner than we had both anticipated and we will miss him. I said the other day that he has taken his game to new heights with us this season," said Brisbane coach Darren Lehmann.
Meanwhile, Morne Morkel might make his debut for Brisbane on Thursday. The 36-year-old was undergoing injury rehabilitation on an injured ankle and was then forced into a period of quarantine after being caught up in Sydney. The former South African paceman however is now back at training. "Morne has been working very hard to be right and we have been deliberately cautious with his preparations because we know he can fill a very important part of the squad for the remaining games," said Lehmann.
RENEGADES BATSMEN NEED TO STEP UP
The Renegades have the worst batting average (17.8) and balls per wicket (13.9) this season. They have hit the least number of sixes and have the worst balls per boundary (7.3) in this edition. Marsh has been in pretty decent form but the likes of skipper Aaron Finch, Sam Harper, Mackenzie Harvey and Beau Webster have struggled big time. Melbourne would have lost their last encounter as well if not for Nabi's outstanding knock.
Jack Prestwidge and Jake Fraser-McGurk have played a couple of cameos down the order but the Renegades would need their top-order to fire. Finch in particular has only managed 146 runs in eight innings, while Harper has got 158 in nine games. Apart from Marsh, Fraser-McGurk and Nabi, the remaining Melbourne batsmen are averaging less than 20. They will also have to make better use of Imad Wasim the batsman.
Brisbane Heat: Max Bryant, Chris Lynn (c), Joe Denly, Joe Burns, Jimmy Peirson (wk), Lewis Gregory, James Bazley, Jack Wildermuth, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett/Morne Morkel, Matthew Kuhnemann.
Melbourne Renegades: Aaron Finch (c), Shaun Marsh, Sam Harper (wk), Mackenzie Harvey, Beau Webster, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Imad Wasim, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Peter Hatzoglou, Noor Ahmad.