Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Renegades
Saturday, December 19th, 00:10 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Hurricanes breeze to the top
Hobart were the early table toppers with two opening wins but defeat to the Strikers last time out has seen Peter Handscomb's side drop to second behind the Melbourne Stars. While Colin Ingram claimed the Golden Cap as highest BBL10 run scorer, there are some issues at the top of the order where openers D'Arcy Short and Will Jacks have collectively failed on two occasions.
Hurricanes may want to consider Jacks' position but Short will undoubtedly remain as a consistent T20 run scorer and a player who made 72 in Sunday's win over the Strikers. In the bowling department, James Faulkner has returned best figures for Hobart in each of their three opening games and early wickets have been a feature of their campaign so far. With good support from Scott Boland and Riley Meredith, the seam attack has no issues but the one weakness lies in the spin department where part-timers Jacks and Short have had to deliver too many overs.
Renegades set unwanted record
BBL10 started brightly enough for Melbourne Renegades with a seven wicket win over Perth but the second match of the campaign set new lows. In reply to the Sixers' 205/4, Renegades' total of 60 all out was the second lowest in the history of the tournament and it set a new record in regards to margin of defeat.
The bad news continues with reports that Aaron Finch is to leave the bubble and will sit out Saturday's game. Australia's white ball skipper will return after Christmas but pressure now falls on an underperforming squad in his absence. With Finch already ruled out, the Renegades may not make too many changes from the team that lost to Sydney Sixers so the focus is on senior players such as Shaun Marsh, Rilee Rossouw and Kane Richardson.
All clear in Hobart
The rain that ruined Wednesday's fixture in Launceston between the Scorchers and the Stars is set to stay away as we make the trip down to Hobart. There may be some cloud cover but the forecast suggests that we should get the full 40 overs if they're needed.
Four previous BBL10 games at the Blundstone Arena have produced an average first innings score of 171 and only the Scorchers' sub par effort of 130 was successfully chased down. The remaining scores of 178, 174 and 205 were defended so it looks to be a case of bat first and go big.
Hobart can go back to the top with a bonus point win and the markets expect a comfortable day for Handscomb's side. The Hurricanes are currently available at 1.845/6 for the win with Melbourne Renegades trailing at 2.166/5.
The Renegades' main hope is to guard against those early inroads made by Faulkner with the swinging new ball. In the later overs, they can then take advantage of the lack of a potent front line spinner within the Hobart ranks. It's a plausible scenario but the Melbourne franchise were already struggling before Finch's absence was confirmed so I have to side with the favourites this time.
Along with 'Bubble Fatigue' the X-Factor isn't a term I thought I'd ever use in relation to cricket. The potential use of a substitute gives us something else to think about in the individual player markets but, ahead of the game, we have to consider the most likely starters.
Shaun Marsh will start as favourite to top score for Melbourne Renegades at 3.02/1 while Marcus Harris offers an option at 4.03/1. Meanwhile, the name that stands out is that of Rilee Rossouw who is currently listed at 7/2 on the sportsbook and that could translate to a generous 4.57/2 on the exchange.
Marsh isn't necessarily a dour batsman in this form of the game but the absence of Finch could see him play an anchor role. Rossouw, who has a strike rate above 135.00 with two T20 hundreds, looks a more attractive pick.
James Faulkner may have lost some pace but his skill and variations remain. Hobart have looked to make full use of any swing from the left armer with the new ball and seven wickets in those first three games suggests that the strategy is working.
Over at the sportsbook, there is a price boost that you may want to consider. Faulkner is lifted to 3/1 from 5/2 to be the Hurricanes' clear leading wicket taker and form suggests that could be a value option.