Ed Hawkins previews the final from the Marvel Stadium on Sunday and is leaning towards a victory for Stoinis and Co...
"More worrying for Renegades is covering for Nabi’s overs. He leaves a big hole considering his mean economy rate and that might bite them in the end"
Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades
Sunday 17 February 03.45
TV: live on BT Sport
The Stars have hit form at exactly the right time. Their demolition of Hobart Hurricanes was their fifth in seven and there can be no doubt that they are benefitting from a settled squad after earlier disruption.
Glenn Maxwell, who was calm and authoritative in the chase against Hurricanes, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa all returned at just the right time to mount their play-off charge and few should consider their fourth-place finish, scraping ahead of Brisbane Heat by one point, as relevant to their strength.
They have smarts, too. Against Hurricanes they had clearly done their homework to keep Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short quiet and even though the home side recovered through George Bailey and Ben McDermott, the Stars bowling unit never lost control.
Zampa and Sandeep Lamichhane, who is superb, spun a web and Dwayne Bravo used all of his nous. The pace shown by Daniel Worrall, who knocked over four 'Canes, was perhaps an unexpected bonus.
Renegades reliant on Finch
Renegades held their nerve in a tough chase against Sydney Sixers on Friday to book their spot in the final. At one stage, with Daniel Hughes and Josh Philippe taking their bowling apart, another game looked a long way off.
But Renegades put on an expert squeeze to ensure Sixers posted only 180 when they should have been looking at 200.
This was a huge fillip for the Renegades considering their batting has been a little unreliable throughout the tournament, particularly now Mohammad Nabi (replaced by Cameron White) is absent.
Aaron Finch, though, was always going to be the key wicket. And the Sixers couldn't get him quick enough. Finch's 44 from 41 won the day for top-bat bettors but Dan Christian's brutal 31 from 14 was the significant match contribution.
Kane Richardson's cameo in the final over with seven needed and pressure ratcheted up deserves a mention.
Richardson, the top wicket-taker in the tournament, leads a crack bowling unit with good variety in the form of Cameron Boyce, the spinner, and former England man Harry Gurney's whose impressive slower ball put the brakes on Sixers.
Toss bias alert
There's a significant toss bias at the Marvel Stadium. In the last 37 matches, 22 have been won by the team batting second. One would have thought that the recently upgraded surface - which allowed Sixers to considerably bust the first-innings average (150) - will do little to halt the trend. No rain is forecast at the time of writing.
Chasing preferred option for both
Both these sides are better at chasing than they are defending. And although that could be dismissed as a tournament trade, it has been the case over the previous four seasons. Throw in a venue which favours the chaser and it is understandable as to why the match odds market is finding it tough to split the pair.
Stars are marginal favourites at [1.92] with Renegades. We get that favouritism, particularly because they thrashed Renegades by six wickets in their previous meeting. In Stoinis, Maxwell and Lamichhane Stars have an abundance of match-turners.
Can Renegades say the same? Throughout the tournament they have been overly reliant on Finch when he is available and although Christian fans will say 'what about our guy?' he blows hot and cold. We don't easily forget his strokeless effort against Hobart the other week.
More worrying for Renegades is covering for Nabi's overs. He leaves a big hole considering his mean economy rate and that might bite them in the end. On balance, we think the Stars edge it but it would be folly to bet them without the toss in their favour.
Cooper catches eye
The top batsman market for the Stars is dominated by Stoinis and Maxwell. You can read all about how the pair have, between them, brought home profits on nine occasions this season in Hawk Eye. With such a competitive record it is hard to make a case for anyone else. The Stars' top bowler market also comes under the scanner.
For Renegades top-bat, Finch is all the rage. We rate him as a 3/1 shot here and it is arguable he doesn't have a whole lot to beat. Marcus Harris, his Australia team-mate, doesn't come close to his hit rate. We mention Tom Cooper because he oozes class. A Finch-Stoinis double is 9/1 with Betfair Sportsbook.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Stars batting second at [1.85] or better