Travis Birt was the leading scorer in the Big Bash last season. Source: Getty Images/theaustralian.com.au
Despite beginning the tournament as one of the outsiders, the Melbourne Renegades find themselves on top of the Big Bash ladder after two matches as the only team with an unbeaten record. Little was expected of the Etihad Stadium based side this season after losing the likes of Brad Hodge, Dirk Nannes and Shahid Afridi from the last campaign but they will go into battle against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday night confident of upsetting one of the competition favourites.
Skipper Aaron Finch has led the way for his side this season, top scoring against both the Stars and Thunder to be the leading runscorer in Big Bash 02 to date. While he has been in cracking form, opening partner Daniel Harris has scored just 11 runs from his two innings during the current campaign and if he falls cheaply again, further pressure will be heaped on West Indies ace Marlon Samuels . Samuels made an inconspicuous start with the Renegades after being dismissed for four against the Thunder, but will be hopeful of a big return on an Etihad wicket where the average score is more than any other ground being used in the tournament.
Spin twins Aaron O’Brien and Muttiah Muralitharan did the damage with the ball against Sydney, with combined figures of 5/31 from seven overs and will again be given the responsibility of controlling the middle overs against Hobart.
After successfully chasing down 172 against Brisbane in their opening match, the Hurricanes were bundled out for 134 against the Stars on Saturday night and eventually lost by four wickets. Ricky Ponting made just eight in his first appearance for Hobart this season just a day after his emotional farewell at Bellerive Oval and should be must better prepared for this match. His opening partner Tim Paine was the best of the batsman in that match and will be looking to build on his score of 46 after missing all of Big Bash 01 through injury. The Hurricanes may try and get off spinner Jason Krejza into the side to add variety to their attack, with Michael Hogan the man most likely to make way for his inclusion.
The Hurricanes won the only previous meeting between these sides by 7 wickets in Hobart last season but this meeting could be very different. Not only is Etihad Stadium the highest scoring ground being used in the competition but it is also one of the venues that sees the most sixes being hit and with Aaron Finch and Marlon Samuels at the top of the order, the Renegades are likely to be dropping plenty of bombs into the stands.
Click here to bet on Big Bash matches