The Melbourne Derby showcases two teams with contrasting fortunes and Matt Harris is backing the Stars to overcome a weak Renegades unit...
"With Adam Zampa claiming a rare five-for as the Strikers were bundled out for 68, the Stars are suddenly looking in good shape ahead of the Melbourne derby"
Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades
Sunday January 17th, 08:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Fletcher blitz downs the Strikers
Pre-tournament favourites Melbourne Stars were progressing serenely to a sub par total against Adelaide last time out before a late surge set up a comfortable win. Andre Fletcher's unbeaten 89 from 49 balls was a welcome contribution in a competition where Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell have provided the bulk of the runs.
With Adam Zampa claiming a rare five-for as the Strikers were bundled out for 68, the Stars are suddenly looking in good shape ahead of the Melbourne derby. In a tight battle for the top five, Maxwell and Stoinis need that support from the top order if they are to get over the line. Skipper Maxwell has also slimmed down the attack after using up to eight bowlers early on in the tournament, although giving himself a full allocation of four overs could yet prove to be the Stars undoing.
Renegades set to bow out
A single point separates five teams in third to seventh place so that leaves just one side out of contention as they look to claim the wooden spoon. Step forward the Melbourne Renegades who have endured a tournament to forget with three double figure team totals setting a low standard throughout BBL 10.
Aaron Finch's men claimed a rare victory over the Strikers last week but managed to follow that up with a tame loss to Brisbane Heat on Thursday. With Finch woefully out of touch, Shaun Marsh has done the bulk of the run scoring but there has been welcome support from Beau Webster and Mohammad Nabi in Renegades' previous two matches. Totals of 149/6 and 178/4 show an improvement but eight defeats from ten games tells the true story of Melbourne Renegades' wretched season.
Home comforts at the MCG
It's good to see a local derby being held on familiar territory with the Melbourne Cricket Ground taking hosting duties. This is only the second game of BBL 10 to take place at the MCG following on from the Stars' 111 run victory over Adelaide on Friday.
In 2020, the average first innings score here in all T20 cricket came in at 167 and, historically, wins show a near 50/50 split between the chasing side and the team taking first knock. Following some rain on Saturday, we should get a dry day and the prospect of a full 40 overs if they're needed.
Given the respective league standings, there are no surprises in the result market with Melbourne Stars leading the way at 8/15. The Renegades trail in second place at 6/4 and few will back the outsiders with any great conviction.
Mohammad Nabi's 71 from 41 balls against the Strikers underlined the unpredictability of T20 cricket and the fact that one big performance can always upset the odds. A similar performance from within the ranks will be needed if the Renegades are to convert. In the Stars' camp, there are a number of batsmen who should be taking more responsibility but Andre Fletcher's display suggests that Maxwell's men are peaking at just the right time. In short, I can't see past the favourites here.
I was tempted to make Aaron Finch my recommended bet at 13/5 to top score for the Renegades but I can't justify backing another favourite. It looks wrong to see Finch listed at number four in the order but I do suspect he is 'due'.
Instead, I'll switch to the Stars camp and back Glenn Maxwell at a far more interesting 7/2. Marcus Stoinis is the favourite in this market at 23/10 while Andre Fletcher will attract interest at 13/5 but I'm tipping Maxwell to lead from the front.
Among the Big Bash boosts on the sportsbook, one that stands out for me is the 7/2, enhanced from 3/1, on Adam Zampa to be the Stars' clear leading wicket taker. The leg spinner is finding form and can claim another big haul against a struggling batting unit.
Among the specials, Glenn Maxwell to hit a 4 and a 6 should be worth a look at 5/6 on the sportsbook once again. I'll leave it at two suggestions but there's more to consider for Sunday's match.
Matt Harris' BBL P/L