In the final Group game of BBL07, Matt Harris expects Brisbane Heat to take the points but will it be enough to claim a semi-final place?
"Bravo and Pollard can take the game away with the bat but the West Indian pair are batting too high and that’s a weakness for the Heat to exploit."
Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades
Saturday, 08:20 GMT
Just two points separate these sides going into the final game and in theory, Heat can overtake third-placed Renegades with a win on Saturday. A considerable gap in respective run rates makes that an unlikely scenario but it could mean that Brisbane's batters might look to 'tee off' from ball one. If, on Saturday, however, the Hurricanes manage to become only the second team to lose to Melbourne Stars this season, any kind of victory may be enough to progress to the knockouts.
An overall record of four wins from nine keeps them in the hunt but form isn't exactly encouraging. Brisbane made just 73 against the Sixers last time out but overall, it's been a good campaign with the bat, certainly at the Gabba where the Heat have made winning totals of 191 and 206.
Reports suggest that Chris Lynn is set to return and that could be the big positive for Brisbane. Brendon McCullum is the side's leading run scorer but hasn't been at his devastating best so the explosive Lynn could take the pressure off the skipper and the rest of the top order.
Changes in personnel didn't bring instant results against the Strikers as I'd hoped but the Renegades, with Kieron Pollard replacing Mohammad Nabi, looked to be closing out the season strongly after ending the Thunder's qualification hopes on Wednesday.
Pollard hasn't yet made any great contribution with the bat and although this Melbourne franchise racked up 189 against Thunder, batting looks suspect without Aaron Finch, Brad Hodge and Cameron White.
White was previously released by Cricket Australia but I've found no suggestion that this will happen again and Dwayne Bravo (or DJ Bravo as he seems to be called now) batting at four, underlines a lack of depth.
Venue and Conditions
The Gabba hosts its fifth game of BBL07 and has so far produced high scoring surfaces with a respectable first innings average of 181. Only the Thunder, with 149, dipped below the 150 mark and it's been a happy home for the Heat this year with three wins to date.
Three of those four matches have gone to the side taking first knock so it should be a case of win toss, bat first and aim for that 181 average as a minimum. Rain is forecast, though, so that theory could be affected but previous poor weather predictions in games that I've covered this year have all been completely wrong.
Brisbane Heat take the favourites' slot for this one at [1.81] with the Renegades behind at [2.22]. Given the forecast this is another game where I will wait for the morning to check on weather conditions but I'm not expecting it to be correct so in a full game I would want Brisbane to take the points.
The Heat's official website states that they have been 'blessed' with a nine day break since that Sixers defeat and while time away from the middle isn't always helpful, it's given Chris Lynn a chance to get back in the side and that could be important.
I'm also looking for Brisbane's bowlers to take early wickets and expose that Melbourne top order. Bravo and Pollard can take the game away with the bat but the West Indian pair are batting too high and that's a weakness for the Heat to exploit.
With Aaron Finch contributing little at the start of the tournament, Cameron White became uncharacteristically reliable with the bat but since he joined up with the ODI squad, the top batsman profits have been shared around.
Marcus Harris top scored against Sydney Thunder with 64 and he starts this game as the [3.4] favourite. There will be interest in Bravo at [5.2] and Pollard at [6.4] but as a consistent accumulator and in a side missing three big names, Tom Cooper at [4.2] is my recommended bet for today.
I would normally stay clear of two Top Batsman tips but these have worked well for me at BBL07 and with Chris Lynn set to start, one of my personal favourites is back. Given his injury record, I will check the team sheets before committing but Lynn would be my pick at an admittedly short [3.1].
Other options include Brendon McCullum at [3.6], Sam Heazlett at [4.7] and Alex Ross at a generous [6.4].
Back Tom Cooper to Top Score for Melbourne Renegades at [4.2]
Matt Harris' BBL07 P/L