The Melbourne Renegades have been unbeatable this season. Image courtesy of cricket.com.au
The Melbourne Renegades can extend their winning run to four matches with a win over the Brisbane Heat at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. After losing their final three matches last season, the Renegades more or less built a new team from scratch for the current campaign and the change of fortunes has been immediate. While they missed the finals last year, the current crop is the only unbeaten side in the competition and has assumed tournament favouritism.
Skipper Aaron Finch has played a huge part in the Renegades unbeaten run, top scoring in each of their first three matches this season. The hard hitting opener appears certain to add to his three Twenty20 International caps when the Australian squad is named later in the summer having scored 188 runs and been dismissed just once in the competition so far. The other big plus for the home team has been the form of its imports. Jamaican all-rounder Marlon Samuels was Man of the Match in Melbourne’s 7 wicket win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday after collecting 3 wickets and scoring 21 runs, while record Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan has collected 4 wickets from the opening three matches with an economy rate of just five runs an over.
Although less than halfway into its campaign, this fixture is already shaping as a must win match for Brisbane. With just one win from its opening three matches the Heat are languishing near the foot of the table and need to start winning soon in order to make the finals. Luke Pomersbach and Chris Lynn have played brutal innings against the Strikers and Scorchers respectively this season and coach Darren Lehmann will be hopeful that they can fire again with several other top order players struggling. West Indies quick Kemar Roach produced a fiery one over spell after finally making his debut at the Gabba during the week and will be eager to impress again, while Brisbane may try to squeeze limited overs specialist Alister McDermott into the squad as well.
Brisbane Heat were 12 run victors when these sides met here last season, largely thanks to the performance of McDermott, who collected 3/18 from his four overs. Although Etihad Stadium was the highest scoring ground in the competition last season, it is playing much slower during the current campaign with good slow bowler coming to the fore. The Renegades two pronged spin attack of Aaron O’Brien and Muralitharan have played a key role in their success at the ground this year and Brisbane may well be caught out by a lack of slow bowling options, with Nathan Hauritz the lone spinner in the squad.
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