Round 4 of the Big Bash League looks fantastic and should make or break the finals campaigns for a couple of teams. The Thunder rose to the top of the ladder last round and are, believe it or not, the only undefeated team in the BBL05 league. After winning three of the last four wooden spoons, they now appear set for finals. It appears there are six teams competing for the other three spots with only the Heat now out of the equation after losing their first four matches.
We landed our best bet against last round, and are chipping up the profits slowly, despite a couple of frustrating losses. Hopefully we can land a clean slate this round but it looks a tougher round on paper without the Heat in action.
BBL05 Overall Profit/Loss: +8.45 units (8-3) (updated 2nd Jan)
Etihad Stadium, Wednesday December 30th 7:10pm AEDST
Both the Scorchers and the Renegades are sitting with one win and one loss in their account – a win here and they are back on the positive side of the ledger and into the top four which is always a good place to be!
They will meet at Etihad Stadium where there Renegades went down in their last match against the Sixers. As to be expected with their line up, they set a good score but then weren’t able to defend it. Gayle, Finch and Bravo were dangerous as ever with the bat, but their attack were unable to restrict the Sixers. Tremain, Stevenson, Doherty and Gayle were all too expensive, while Nathan Rimmington tried hard with his four wickets. As a bowling unit, they need to bowl in partnerships and tighten things up, otherwise it’s going to be hard to see them reaching the pointy end of this competition.
The Scorchers got themselves on the board with a demolition of the Heat. It was a sensational bowling performance that would’ve been too good for any team in the competition. If they bring that to every match then they will be hard to beat for a three-peat of the BBL title. Jason Behrendorff was an important player to return to the bowling lineup, while Willey and Hogg were superb. Michael Klinger was also back in the runs in a good sign for the Scorchers, and he’ll get some help at the top of the order with Shuan Marsh set to return. You would think he’ll be desperately hungry for runs after being dropped for the Boxing Day test.
Odds: Melbourne Renegades ($1.85) vs Perth Scorchers ($1.95) at Sportsbet
Verdict: The bookies have it a near coin flip, but I think the Scorchers bowling line up is good enough to counter the strong batting of the Renegades. If they can stifle Gayle and Finch early then it goes a long way to defeating the Gades. With Marsh coming back into the team, I’m happy to back the Scorchers at that price with the money back special at Sportsbet as our best bet of the round.
Adelaide Oval, Thursday December 31st 7:10pm AEDST
A New Year’s Eve blockbuster will see the Strikers host the Sixers in front of what should be a capacity 50,000+ crowd at the Adelaide Oval. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses last round and will be desperate for a win here.
The Sixers fell to the Stars, but almost more disappointing was that their skipper Moises Henriques suffered a season-ending injury to his calf. He’s a huge loss with the bat and ball, and of course, with his leadership. Nic Maddinson will take over the captaincy. Last time these two teams met in the Semi-Final of BBL04, Maddinson smoked 85 off 48 balls to setup a huge win. He’ll need to do the same and lead from the front in this contest. You would think Ed Cowan may be considered for the Sixers to boost their batting, which at times, has looked a little light as they simply didn’t score enough runs against the Stars.
Their bowling wasn’t too bad with Stephen O’Keefe and Jackson Bird starting things off well, and Doug Bollinger picked up a couple of wickets, but Trent Lawford and Johan Botha were expensive. Without Henriques they will really need that fifth bowler to stand up.
The Strikers had a chance to claim top spot on the ladder, but were smashed by the Thunder in Round 3. The defeat exposed their reliance on their middle order. Ludeman and Simmons have failed every match, while Jayawardene also struggled. This season it’s been Head, Hodge and Ross who have carried them. The Strikers need to get off to better starts to compete with the top teams, so maybe a change in line up is due.
In defending a small target, Brad Hodge made some strange decisions with his bowlers with strike weapons Ben Laughlin and Adil Rashid held back for too long. They have been great this season, and along with Richardson, will make it tough for the Sixers.
Odds: Adelaide Strikers ($1.62) vs Sydney Sixers ($2.31) at Sportsbet
Verdict: Strong lean towards the Strikers, but their price seems a little short so not sure there’s much value there. The Sixers price is definitely inflated because of Henriques being out, so if they can cover his loss, there’s no reason they can’t win if you want to go with the value of the underdogs. We’ll sit this one out.
Bet: NO PLAY
Blundstone Arena, Friday January 1st 2016 7:10pm AEDST
We welcome in the New Year with a cracking match between the Hurricanes and the Thunder. Who would’ve guessed that the Thunder would be only undefeated team after three rounds? Not me! They have definitely improved with some excellent recruits this season, but I’m still not convinced they are the tournament favourites. This will be a huge challenge against the Hurricanes.
The Thunder destroyed the Strikers in the top of the table clash last round. The win was setup with the new ball with Andre Russell and Gurinder Sandhu taking early wickets and the Strikers just couldn’t recover. Russell has been a revelation with the ball, adding some real spark and wicket-taking ability. Shane Watson and Jacques Kallis have also played their roles well with the ball, along with Clint McKay in support.
Their batting has always looked good with Kallis, Blizzard and Hussey all playing good innings so far this series. So if their bowling is going well, then they are definitely in good shape!
The Hurricanes will need to break through early to put some pressure on the Thunder batting. Unfortunately their bowling hasn’t been their strength. Shaun Tait was at his wild best (and worst) against the Heat, but Jake Reed and Cameron Boyce were both very good in a high scoring match. They seem to have their team balance pretty right now.
While the pre-season talk was with the signing of Kumar Sangakkara, it’s Dan Christian who has proven to be their best recruit so far this season. His bowling has been very valuable, and his wonderful innings of 56 off 24 balls (including a 117-metre six that cleared the roof of the Gabba!) showed just how dangerous he is with the bat. His innings was setup by the strong start from Ben Dunk and Tim Paine. Dunk is overdue for a big score, while Sangakkara has looked great but is also yet to find a big score.
Odds: Hobart Hurricanes ($2.15) vs Sydney Thunder ($1.70) at Sportsbet
Verdict: I think there’s value in the Hurricanes here at the early price, especially with the money back offers around. They are a high scoring team, so it helps with the promos. Sure the Thunder have done nothing wrong, but I feel their bubble is going to pop. A trip down to Hobart is a tricky ask, and the Hurricanes will be buoyed by winning their last two. It’s a massive game for the Hurricanes if they want to contend for the title.
MCG, Saturday January 2nd 2016 6:10pm AEDST
The Melbourne derby completes the round with the Stars taking on the Renegades in what should be a huge crowd at the ‘G. The Stars will have some confidence back after getting a win on the board against the Sixers and they’ll want to continue that momentum to make a run towards the finals.
Michael Beer opening the bowling was a great option for the Stars as he bowled four frugal overs against the Sixers. Scott Boland also continues to increase his stocks with another good performance that helped suffocate the opposition and setup the victory. Boland has been called up to the Test squad for this match, but John Hastings should be fit from his shoulder injury while young quick Jackson Coleman has been added to their squad.
Glenn Maxwell was back among the runs which is good news for Stars fans while Peter Handscomb also enjoyed a promotion in the batting order. However you would think he’ll be bumped back down again for this match with import Kevin Pietersen returning to play after the birth of his new baby.
The Renegades will be playing their second match of the round, and if they can’t get at least one win from the two, it will be season over. No doubt they will rise to the challenge of the Stars, but I’m sure they’d prefer to be playing under the roof at Etihad.
They have this week added Ben McDermott to their squad as cover for the injured Callum Ferguson, while Nathan Hauritz has been dropped from the squad with Xavier Doherty set to get a recall.
Odds: Melbourne Stars ($1.80) vs Melbourne Renegades ($2.00) at Sportsbet
Verdict: This will be a great game but with Pietersen returning and playing at the MCG, I favour the all-round talents of the Stars in a close one.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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