Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades Big Bash Tips: Tournament a mess as Covid bites

Glenn Maxwell
Maxwell is propping up Stars

Ed Hawkins previews the Bash clash at the MCG on Monday with the hosts severely hit by a Covid outbreak...

"It would still only take a big performance from a Clarke, Maxwell, Qais or Rauf to down the Renegades rabble"

Trade Stars from 2.021/1 to 1.654/6.

Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades
Monday 3 January, 08:10
TV: live on Sky Sports

Stars horribly depleted

Melbourne Stars were beaten by Perth Scorchers on Sunday by 50 runs. But it was not the thrashing it seems.

Stars have been badly hit by Covid and were without ten first-team players against the Scorchers. Marcus Stoinis, Andre Russell, Nick Larkin, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile Adam Zampa and Beau Webster remain unavailable.

They did well to muster a team. Haris Rauf's return was a massive boost while Joe Clarke hit his third consecutive fifty. Justin Avendano, the former Sixers bat, and Tasmania bat Charles Wakim were added at the last minute.

Possible XI: Clarke, Rogers, Maxwell, Wakim, Cartwright, O'Connell, Avendano, Crone, Qais, Couch, Rauf

Renegades to lose Topley

Renegades have not been unaffected by Covid. They are set to lose Reece Topley as a raft of England players have been ordered home so not to jeopardise the forthcoming tour to West Indies.

Sam Billings (Sydney Thunder), George Garton (Adelaide Strikers), Tymal Mills (Perth Scorchers), Saqib Mahmood (Sydney Thunder) and James Vince (Sydney Sixers) have also been told to leave.

The Bash is falling apart and the competitive legitimacy of the competition must now be called into question.

Nic Maddinson, the Renegades skip, is back after being called up to Ashes duty because of Travis Head's positive Covid test. Shaun Marsh returns from injury. Josh Lalor could replace Topley if they feel he's not worth persevering with given an imminent departure.

Possible XI: Finch, Marsh, Harper, Maddinson, Harvey, Nabi, Prestwidge, Pattinson, Richardson, Lalor, Zahir.

Pitch report

This is the third match played at the MCG this season. Previous first-innings scores of 177 by the Stars against the Sixers wasn't enough but the 165 against Thunder was.

There is no toss bias to speak of at the 'G and the first-innings average is under 165. With Stars depleted and Renegades' batting bolstered, this could be a good chance for them to put down a decent total.

In two matches against the Scorchers (both lost, however) they showed improvement with the bat before sliding back to bad habits against the Hurricanes. They might be worth a wager go over 157.5.

Stars trade risk

There has to be doubt whether this game goes ahead. How many more positive cases can Stars take before they are unable to field a team?

Renegades are a truly awful T20 side and have been for years. Their pre-match odds of 1.9720/21 shows how damaged the tournament has been by the outbreak.

And yet the appetite to back them at such a price is relatively easily ignored. It would still only take a big performance from a Clarke, Maxwell, Qais or Rauf to down the Renegades rabble. It's not inconceivable that Stars are worth risking at 2.021/1. That assumes, however, no more absences.

Don't forget that Renegades have lost five of their six completed matches and are rock-bottom with a vastly inferior run rate. Therefore it may to get involved in a Stars bet, wagering them to come favourites with one of their big players doing the business.

Stars were our outright pick for glory but their campaign has been ruined. With a fully-fit squad they were capable of putting a sequence of wins together to challenge but will now have to hope they can squeeze into fifth or fourth. However, they may be spared with the tournament called off.

Tops value

We expect Shaun Marsh to slot back into his opening partnership with Aaron Finch. So around 11/4 might be of interest with Sportsbook, who have held off pricing awaiting more team news from the Stars camp. Rauf's expert death bowling - and extreme pace - makes him a potential at a similar price for top Stars bowler. He could pick up cheap wickets.

Will Covid save England? This week's Cricket...Only Bettor

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