T20 cricket is about scoring runs and scoring them as quick as possible. If a team is asked to choose between scoring no runs and scoring them slowly, they would like to avoid both the scenarios. Match 29 in the Big Bash League (BBL) 2020/21 brings two teams who suffering at least one of these syndromes and it quite accurately described their campaign so far.
Adelaide Strikers, placed fifth on the points table, have the lowest batting strike-rate in the tournament, 127.4 which translates roughly to 7.6 runs per over. Batting first in their last game, they lost four wickets but managed only 150 runs on the board. They meandered along at 6 an over for a major part of the innings before a 22-run last over took them to 150. Their campaign has been on similar terms - slow. After losing two of their first three games, they picked themselves up with back to back wins but are now placed in the middle of the table losing two on the bounce.
Melbourne Renegades, on the other hand, have not scored runs at all. Getting bowled out for a double-digit score once is embarrassing enough and the Renegades have folded for less than 100 thrice in the competition already. Their average of 17 runs per wicket is 5 runs lower than the next worst - Brisbane Heat. Renegades have followed an emphatic win in their season opener with five defeats in a row and are languishing at the bottom of the table. They are so far behind that even if they acquire all 4 points from this game, they will still be at the bottom.
Match 29, thus provide an interesting match-up - team with the lowest batting strike-rate against the team with the lowest batting average.
Star players fading away
Both teams have a number of star players whose below-par returns have affected their campaign. Aaron Finch is the second highest run-scorer for the Renegades but he has only 132 runs at an average of 22. Rilee Rossouw, an overseas start, has contributed only 107 runs at 17.5. Mohammad Nabi also has just one good knock and only three wickets to show for his efforts in five matches. Sam Harper might not be known as a star player as yet but he has also disappointed at an average of 18.2 to go with a strike-rate of 119.8 (in comparison to averaging 25.4 and striking at 144.6 last season).
The Renegades need at least two of them to step up with the bat to help Shaun Marsh who appears to be the only batsman to contribute in the team’s cause.
In a similar vein, the Strikers have been let down by their overseas imports - Phil Salt and Danny Briggs. Salt was supposed to be the aggressor for Strikers and his low returns - an average of 17.6 - has knocked the team back early on. Briggs has not find enough grip from the tracks to aid his left-arm orthodox spin.
Much like their batting, the bowling of these two sides has not been top-notch as well. The Strikers have been good in restricting the opposition with an economy of 7.9 runs per over but have been dependent too often on Rashid Khan to provide a wicket. Against Sydney Sixers, in their last game, Rashid was the only bowler to pick up a wicket.
The Renegades, akin to last year, are the most expensive side and least penetrative tram with the ball. They rank last in terms of the economy (9.1 runs per over), bowling average (30.1 runs power wicket) and strike-rate (19.8 balls per wicket) this season. Jack Prestwidge was the only silver lining of their disastrous outing against Perth Scorchers (an all-round performance of 2/32 and 33 with the bat). The Renegades will hope he provides the match needed support to Kane Richardson.
The Strikers played Ryan Gibson ahead Matt short in the last game. Since Gibson did not get a chance to bat, a change in their line-up is unlikely. Although, their batting order would be interesting to see. They pushed Jake Weatherald down to number 5. The southpaw responded with a handy 34. Primarily an opener, does he come back to the top after getting some runs under his belt or do they continue with him at 5, only time will tell.
Phil Salt, Matt Renshaw, Alex Carey (c/wk), Jonathan Wells, Jake Weatherald, Ryan Gibson, Rashid Khan, Daniel Worrall, Danny Briggs, Wes Agar, Peter Siddle
The Renegades are yet to name their squad. With the kind of performances coming from their end, it is currently tough to predict the combination they may field to salvage their season.
Shaun Marsh, Sam Harper (wk), Aaron Finch (c), Rilee Rossouw, Beau Webster, Mohammad Nabi, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Josh Lalor, Peter Hatzoglou, Noor Ahmad