Our Big Bash scribe gives his verdict on the two New Year's Day matches which see the Stars and Renegades square off and the Scorchers and Thunder go toe-to-toe.
This is the big one. Melbourne will be at a standstill when the two local rivals take each other on in what should be an absolute treat for the cricket fanatic on New Year’s Day. We then move onto our next fixture which is Game 13 and sees the Scorchers take on the Thunder, who have yet to win a game this season. The Scorchers can reaffirm their top four credentials with a win while the Thunder severely need a win to get off the mark and instil some confidence within the side.
Big Bash Game 12 | Stars v Renegades | Sunday 1 December | 09:10 | Melbourne
To Win Match
Stars 7/10| Tie 35/1| Renegades 6/5
The Stars are a big side in the BBL. They feature names such as Luke Wright, Glenn Maxwell, David Hussey, James Faulkner, Ben Hilfenhaus and Adam Zampa and will have Dolphins batsman Kevin Pietersen join their ranks for this game. They are filled with T20 royalty and have the firepower to see off any side and chase down any total. In their only game to date, they thrashed the Hurricanes after chasing down 188 with 14 balls to spare. I did think they may start the tournament off slowly as they usually take time to get into the competition but this year they have shown that they are ready to go.
The question will be whether or not Hilfenhaus, Zampa, Stoinis and Scott Boland can hamper the progress of Aaron Finch, Cameron White and Callum Ferguson but it may not matter if the batsmen perform as they did in their opener. Another plus was the form of Rob Quiney who surprised a few people with his knock of 75 at the top of the order and really put the Hurricanes to the sword.
The Renegades lost their most recent game against the Scorchers mainly because of all their top order failing to kick on after getting decent starts. If just one of the top five batsmen got to fifty, they would been home and hosed.
The Loss of Dwayne Bravo who has been ruled out of the tournament after doing his hamstring will be felt strongly as his all-round performances are crucial to any side he plays for. The Renegades batsmen are in form, and in their first game, they set a decent total of 179 after Aaron Finch went on and scored 63. One feels they may need two or even three of their batsmen to make big contributions here.
The Bowlers have been very good. Tom cooper has been economical opening the bowling while not taking any wickets as has Chris Tremain. Sunil Narine just about always bowls well and Brad Hogg has been good if not excellent. Basically, the bowlers will need to continue this form to ensure that the Stars batsmen do not get away from them, which they are well capable of.
Verdict: Aaron Finch Top Renegades Batsman at 9/4
Whilst I do like the Stars to win this game (they have beaten the Renegades in 7 of their 9 encounters), I cannot ignore the fact that Finch has scored 350 runs against the Stars at an average of over 70. He is in good form, back him to get some runs today.
Big Bash Game 13 | Scorchers v Thunder | Sunday 01 December | 12:15| Perth
To Win Match
Scorchers 13/20| Tie 35/1| Thunder 5/4
Well, the Scorchers and the Renegades were involved in the game of the season so far in game 9 where the Scorchers’ Ashton Agar hit Aaron Finch for six to seal a last-over victory. That win will give them a massive amount of confidence as at one stage they were strong favourites, then some stutters saw them in big trouble before they finally finished it off. They will go into this game knowing that they can come out on top in the big moments which does not bode well for their opponents.
The Scorchers have been lucky to have Ian Bell in such good form as the other batsmen have played well but just have not been able to capitalise on good starts. Michael Klinger was good in the most recent game for his 75 but has scored only 19 runs in the previous two games. Mitch Marsh has looked very good so far and has made some big contributions. David Willey, AJ Tye and Mitch Johnson have bowled well and will be looking to take advantage of the Thunder batsmen, who are low on confidence.
The fact that Pat Cummins has been the Thunder’s third highest run scorer after three games says a lot about the form of the side's batsmen. Kurtis Patterson, one of the openers, has been disappointing, as has Andre Russell who has only contributed 19 runs from three innings. Shane Watson is a welcome addition to the side and they should perhaps give him a run of games as he can really be the difference in the side. The Thunder need more big contributions from their stars. Eoin Morgan has shown some promise but has failed to really dominate an attack so far, Russell has not been good with bat or ball and Cummins has been extremely expensive with the ball.
They need to pull it together if they want to win this one. Cummins, Morgan, Russell and Watson need to contribute and show why they are so highly rated. Ryan Gibson, the other opening batsman, has looked good so far but has also not managed to make any bowlers quiver in fear. If the bowlers can perform above the levels they have been and the batsmen can contribute more than what they have been then they might be in with a shout here, however at the moment it will be a tough ask.
Verdict: Scorchers To Win at 13/20
The Scorchers should win here. They have won four of the five games against the Thunder and recent form points in the direction of that happening again. Thunder are just so low on confidence right now while the Scorchers will be riding the wave of that last over victory against the Renegades. Back the Scorchers.
Written by Dale Vos for @Hollywoodbets.