The Big Bash chips are down as last four places hinge on crunch games like this. James Buttler expects Melbourne Renegades to extend their BBL07 stay...
"The men upstairs favour the Renegades at [1.83] and so do I. In my opinion they've been the better of the two sides in BBL07 and will eliminate the Thunder and progress themselves on Wednesday."
Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades
January 24, 08:40 GMT
Last season the Thunder reverted to type and hovered around the basement on the BBL06 ladder. The previous year saw them lift the BBL05 crown, but that was a blip and this season they've assumed the position of a plucky basement team once again. That said, they do pack a punch, but with one match to play they need to land it - and then some - to stand any chance of progressing to the final four. With star man Shane Watson getting beyond his best before date one could be tempted to push the Thunder towards a squad overhaul ahead of next season's competition.
The Renegades look set to make the semi-finals for the first time in five Big Bash seasons and deservedly so. Hampered by the loss of key top-order powerhouses in Aaron Finch and Cameron White to Australian duty, getting over the line has not been easy. Any side with Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo in the middle-order will be playing their T20 cricket with a smile and the Renegades could still come up on the rails and take the trophy this time around. Just as long as it doesn't encourage Mr Bravo to release that dreadful 'Champions' song again!
The Renegades have won five of the six previous meetings between the two sides, including taking the points from the last three games on the bounce. The two sides are yet to face off in BBL07 and this encounter is of huge significance. The Thunder, playing their final ladder match, have to win to give themselves a chance of making the final four.
The Renegades are also on eight points, but have two matches still to play with an away tie at The Gabba against the Brisbane Heat, also on eight points with one to play, still to follow. A crunching Renegades victory pretty much resolves the final four. Anything else and the chase for the semi-finals goes to the wire.
The men upstairs favour the Renegades at [1.83] and so do I. In my opinion they've been the better of the two sides in BBL07 and will eliminate the Thunder and progress themselves on Wednesday.
When the chips are down it's the experienced campaigners you look for to step up and few are more match hardened than Shane Watson. He's had a decent BBL07 with the bat with 309 runs at 38.62 and at 11/4 warrants a second glance. Elsewhere, James Vince is putting a mixed Ashes campaign behind him. Joining the Thunder seems to have freed him up and 74 runs in two knocks could be added to here. I would want slightly longer oddds than the 13/5 on offer however before backing the Englishman. Further down this market a half-stakes nibble on Aiden Blizzard at 8/1 could be profitable.
The favourite in this market, and the guy with plenty of experience, is Brad Hodge, however I am always reluctant to play my full stake on a guy in the middle-order of a T20 match. Hodge doesn't provide much value at 16/5 and therefore I'm tempted by Tom Cooper at 4/1. Cooper has 186 runs at 37.20 in BBL07 and in the absence of Finch and White will be expected to step up. Half stakes nibbles on West Indian all-rounders Kieron Pollard (6/1) and Dwayne Bravo (17/2) could also be sensible plays. It is pressured games like this when a tree-trunk of a man like Pollard can flex those huge arms and take his side over the line.
My mainstay of a bet and a play that will give you chances for the duration of the game. As we get to the culmination of the tournament and the pressure gets even more intense, this bet has huge potential.
James Buttler at BBL07
Units Staked 33.25
Units Returned 46.59
Profit/Loss: +13.34 units
2 units on Melbourne Renegades to win at [1.93]
1 unit on Over 1.5 Total Match Run Outs at 7/4 (Sportsbook)
0.5 units on Aiden Blizzard to be Top Sydney Thunder Batsman at 8/1 (Sportsbook)
0.5 units on Kieron Pollard to be Top Melbourne Renegades Batsman at 17/2 (Sportsbook)