After a slow start to BBL 10, Sydney Thunder have won four games in succession and Matt Harris is expecting a fifth straight win over the struggling Renegades.
"Death bowling isn’t the biggest concern for a Renegades side who have failed to pass 100 on two occasions at BBL 10"
Melbourne Renegades v Sydney Thunder
Friday January 1st, 09:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Renegades lose it at the death
Having picked up just one win in five, Melbourne Renegades are already losing ground on the playoff places but Aaron Finch's men should have got over the line against the Sixers last time out. Defending 16 off the last over offer is no guarantee in T20 cricket but Will Sutherland delivered into the slot and Jason Holder duly converted with a ball to spare.
Death bowling isn't the biggest concern for a Renegades side who have failed to pass 100 on two occasions at BBL 10. With Shaun Marsh in the runs and Finch yet to truly deliver, there is obvious scope for improvement but there is also a danger of the team losing focus and morale as the gap between the top five starts to widen.
Captain Callum anchors the Thunder
Alex Hales' explosive 71 from 29 balls rightly took the headlines as Sydney Thunder posted the highest total of BBL 10 so far. The opener also gave us a tidy profit at 11/2 in Thunder's top batsman market as his side eased past Melbourne Stars while Callum Ferguson's supporting effort largely went unnoticed. The skipper passed 50 for the third time in this tournament proving there is room in T20 cricket for patient accumulation and a 'finisher' in the classic Michael Bevan mould.
When a side posts in excess of 200, the bowlers aren't under too much pressure but four wickets for Chris Green and another economical spell from Tanveer Sangha shows that the attack is in good shape. The pair are now joint third in the list of BBL 10 leading wicket takers with nine victims each and, in a tournament where seam has tended to dominate, Thunder's slow men could be pivotal in Friday's game.
Mixed forecast for the Metricon
Friday's game takes us back to the Metricon Stadium on Queensland's Gold Coast which prepares to host its third game of BBL 10. The previous two matches have produced first innings scores of 193 and 168 and both totals were successfully chased down by the Sydney Sixers with just one ball to spare.
The bat flip could carry even more significance on Friday as the forecast is for rain in the area but, irrespective of the weather, it could be a case of inserting, based on those two early results.
Recent form means that there are no surprises in the match betting with Sydney Thunder clear favourites at 1.865/6 to claim the points. Melbourne Renegades follow at 2.1411/10 and the gap could have been wider.
Momentum suddenly seems to be a contentious word in sport but Sydney Thunder's winning streak, which includes a 129 run win over Friday's opponents, can't be ignored. The threat of Duckworth Lewis is a concern but we must ignore that for now and, while one big individual performance can always upset the odds, we'll side with Sydney based on that form guide.
Having talked up Callum Ferguson earlier, it would be remiss not to follow up with some support in Sydney Thunder's top batsman betting. Having bagged Alex Hales at 11/4 last time out, the opener remains at those odds but he's now a clear favourite ahead of Usman Khawaja at 3/1. Meanwhile, Ferguson has a clear lead in the race for the Golden Cap yet he offers potential for good value as the 7/2 third favourite.
Other options further down the order include Sam Billings at 9/2 and Oliver Davies at 7/1 but Callum Ferguson is the pick.
Thunder's spin twins Chris Green and Tanveer Sangha may also offer tempting options in Sydney's top bowler market at 10/3 and 7/2 respectively. Daniel Sams leads the way here at 5/2 but the slow men have been more productive this season. Another option that stands out is the 4/1 on Sam Harper to top score for the Renegades while Melbourne might also offer the value as 7/5 outsiders to hit the most sixes.
I'll settle on the match result and the recommended bet but, as always, there are many more side markets available beyond those two tips.
Matt Harris' BBL P/L