The start of the Big Bash League season continues on Friday when two former champions meet at the Sydney Cricket Ground when the Sydney Sixers open up a new campaign against the Melbourne Renegades.
The Sixers were beaten in the semi-final last season having finished second in the table. The Renegades lost out in their opening play-off match last term after they ended the regular season in third so we have a meeting of two of the top three from the previous campaign on show here.
The Sydney Sixers are one of the Big Bash franchises who keep the majority of their squad intact and just bring in some overseas talent to bolster it and that has been the case going into this term. This is a squad where everyone know their roles and they are a team who tend to play their home conditions very well and you would imagine with that they will be quite hard to beat in this opening game, particularly if they win the toss and get to control the match from there.
The big boost for the Sixers in this one is that Steve Smith is having a hit out before he joins up with the Test squad over the weekend and he smashed two tons in the few outings he had last season. They have lost the likes of Nathan Lyon but Mitchell Starc is on the squad list, although whether he plays after a tough workload in the World Cup remains to be seen. The Sixers have an attack that is always hard to get away but they bat deep too.
The Melbourne Renegades will have been disappointed not to reach the semi-finals at the very least last season having finished third in the table. They hosted the Brisbane Heat but couldn’t get the job done and now they open up their campaign with one of the harder fixtures in the league. If they can win this one though they will be in a good position to launch and with four fewer matches this season each game carries extra significance so road wins will be particularly appealing.
This will be an interesting match because the Renegades look to have done some good work in the draft and transfer movement. Nathan Lyon has come across from the Sixers although he isn’t in the squad for this match but Quinton de Kock is a great signing when he arrives while Joe Clarke and Adam Zampa have moved across Melbourne to the Renegades and so the men in red do look stronger even allowing for having lost a couple of batters and we aren’t sure how in tune Aaron Finch is now that he is purely a part-time player.
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Steven Smith is looking to nail down the opening berth for Australia come the T20 World Cup next year and you would imagine he’ll have that position for what could be one of just two outings for the Sixers this season. If he does and he gets in he can lead them to a big score.
Jake Fraser-McGurk has hit the ground running this season, nailing a lightning fast century in the 50 over competition as well as runs in the Sheffield Shield and he should get a big role for the Melbourne Renegades in this match.
Although there is a fair bit in both attacks for this match, there are some excellent batters on show as well and as a result I think we might see a higher scoring match than the runs line for this one would suggest. That line is 303.5 which feels a little on the low side to me anyway but it certainly does if Steve Smith gets in and gets going because regardless of what is in the Renegades attack, if Smith gets going he is good enough to score off anyone at domestic level.
The pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground is usually good for batting and the boundaries aren’t the biggest all of the way around. I think these will be two high scoring teams this season, especially when they get up to speed in the campaign but this is a line where both sides might not need to be on it for it to be covered. I always like the batters to be up to speed more than the bowlers this early in the season, especially with the pitches largely still fresh. I’ll play the over here.
Back Over 303.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365