For Melbourne Renegades, they will hope that there are better days ahead considering they have registered the two of the worst defeats in Big Bash League (BBL) history. Interestingly, one of those came against Sydney Sixers, their opponents on Tuesday (December 29). The Sixers thrashed Renegades by a whopping 145 runs in Hobart not too long ago and now find themselves on top of the table with 12 points from four matches. Renegades, who finished rock bottom last season, will hope of turning things around at the Carrara Oval, which has already witnessed a thrilling encounter this season.
Chasing 194, the Sixers, thanks to a bludgeoning 51-ball 96 from Daniel Hughes saw his team home with a wicket and a ball to spare in their previous game that was against Melbourne Stars. The batsmen struggled early on in both innings, but luckily for them, at least one of them got set and then took control of the situation.
Sixers seem to have a perfect balance in their ranks, but will need their top three to fire more consistently, so that the pressure on the middle and the lower-order could be reduced to an extent. Hughes has now smashed his way to the top of the leading run-getters in the 2020-21 BBL with 183 runs at 61 and two of his team’s bowlers – Steve O’Keefe and Ben Dwarshius – are the leading wicket-takers in the tournament with eight scalps each.
While the batsmen and bowlers seem to have clicked for the Sixers, it has been opposite for the Renegades, who have registered two scores less than 100 this season already, including in the previous match against Sydney Thunder where they were bowled out for just 80, succumbing to a 129-run loss.
Digging into the bench could make a difference for the Renegades, who could rope in Jon Holland or Jack Prestwidge in the XI to mix things up. Imad Wasim played his first game of the season in the previous game, but was not particularly impressive. With one poor game out of the way, we could see him put in a much better show in this match. It will also be interesting to see if Renegades persist with Shaun Marsh. After his fifty in the first match against Perth Scorchers, the Renegades opener has scored 13, 1 and 3 in his next three outings.
With both bat and ball, Renegades seem to be having a problem setting the tone of the match. Their run-rate of 5.8 in the powerplay this season (Overs 1-4) has been the lowest. Their balls per wicket ratio (13.7) and runs per wicket ratio (13.1) are the worst. With the ball in hand, they concede at an economy rate of 8.8, which once again is the worst among all teams.
Senior pros like Aaron Finch, Marsh and Rilee Rossouw should shoulder more responsibility to make the best of the first four overs and while bowling the likes of Wasim and Kane Richardson, will have to ensure they do not leak runs, even if they do not pick up wickets.
With Renegades getting off to shaky starts on both counts, it is understandable that they get a bit rattled in the middle-overs and as a result, they aren’t able to resurrect their innings as well as they would like.
Renegades likely XI: Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch (c), Sam Harper (wk), Rilee Rossouw, Beau Webster, Mohammad Nabi, Imad Wasim, Will Sutherland, Kane Richardson, Zak Evans/Jack Prestwidge, Peter Hatzoglou/Jon Holland
As mentioned earlier, Sixers seem to have all their bases covered for now. The have multiple options to fill in in at all departments, but it’s now just the question of each player putting the hand up and taking responsibility. Luckily for them, someone has done that at least till now with Joshua Philippe, Hughes, Jordan Silk, Ben Dwarshius and others having played pivotal roles in victories so far. The fact that their star all-rounder Sean Abbott is injured and top players like Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon unavailable, they have still managed to soldier on and churn out the results.
Having already played at the Carrara Oval this season, the Sixers will be well aware of what to expect from the pitch. Their top three consisting of James Vince, Philippe and Jack Edwards ate yet to fire all cylinders in this tournament on a consistent basis and that is an area they would want to do better at.
Once top three or top four lay a good platform, the Sixers have enough firepower lower down the order in Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite and Dan Christian to take them over the line from any sort of situation.
Barring the onslaught from Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran in the previous game, Sixers’ bowlers too have been largely consistent and despite the hammering, they would considering keeping the same XI.
Also, this will be Holder’s final game with the franchise as he returns to national duty with the West Indies for their tour of Bangladesh in January 2021. The West Indies Test captain, who had signed up for just three matches, finished with 1 for 26 in his four overs and scored a vital 11-ball 18 in the previous match against Melbourne Stars to take his team to a one-wicket victory. He will look to leave on a winning note.
Sydney Sixers likely XI: Josh Philippe (wk), Jack Edwards, James Vince, Daniel Hughes (c), Jordan Silk, Daniel Christian, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ben Dwarshuis, Steve OKeefe, Gurinder Sandhu
We could be in for a cloudy evening at Carrara on Tuesday and as a result, we could see the ball nipping around a bit at least in the early stages of the innings.
Match: Melbourne Renegades vs Sydney Sixers, BBL 2020-21, Match 18
Venue: Carrara Oval, Queensland
Date: December 29, 2020
Time: 12:40 PM IST