ANZ Stadium at 7.00pm Friday 30 December
Game 1 – lost to Adelaide Strikers by 67 runs at Adelaide Oval (18/12)
Game 2 – lost to Perth Scorchers by eight wickets (with four balls remaining) at Etihad Stadium (22/12)
v Sydney Thunder at ANZ Stadium (30/12)
v Sydney Sixers at Etihad Stadium (2/1)
v Melbourne Stars at MCG (7/1)
v Brisbane Heat at Etihad Stadium (12/1)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (18/1)
Game 1 – defeated Melbourne Stars by six wickets (with six balls remaining) at MCG (17/12)
Game 2 – defeated Adelaide Strikers by six wickets (with nine balls remaining) at ANZ Stadium (23/12)
v Melbourne Renegades at ANZ Stadium (30/12)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (1/1)
v Sydney Sixers at ANZ Stadium (8/1)
v Perth Scorchers at ANZ Stadium (11/1)
v Brisbane Heat at ‘Gabba (17/1)
Some consider Brad Hodge one of the unluckiest Australian cricketers of all-time. It’s amazing to think a man of his calibre has only played in 39 international matches across an 18-year career. But what the 36-year-old has been able to do is develop a huge reputation as one of the best domestic T20 batsman in the world – perhaps the best. Hodge’s numbers are incredible: 3690 runs, an average of 35.14, 24 half-centuries and two centuries. The right-handed opener sat on the sidelines for the first two rounds of the Big Bash League, but he seems to have recovered from a hamstring injury and should be right to go for Friday’s match.
How can any Australian cricket fan not love Doug Bollinger? The easy going personality, the ferocity with the ball, the passion for representing his country, the balding head – he just oozes charisma. Bollinger isn’t widely regarded for his work in T20, hence why he has only played two matches for Australia. But his domestic record is still very solid, capturing 61 wickets from 54 matches at an average of 23. The 30-year-old will be under immense pressure tonight though as he leads a very young and inexperienced attack.
1. Aaron Finch
2. Brad Hodge
3. Glenn Maxwell
4. Shahid Afridi
5. Andrew McDonald (C)
6. Nathan Reardon
7. Graham Manou (WK)
8. Abdul Razzaq
9. Aaron Heal
10. Dirk Nannes/Shane Harwood
11. Shaun Tait
1. Chris Gayle
2. Daniel Smith (C)
3. Usman Khawaja
4. Ben Dunk (WK)
5. Craig Phillipson
6. Jason Floros
7. Sean Abbott
8. Luke Doran
9. Scott Coyte/Luke Butterworth
10. Fidel Edwards
11. Doug Bollinger
Before the start of the Big Bash League, most expected the Thunder to finish towards the bottom of the ladder while some predicted the Renegades could win the whole tournament. Two rounds in and those punters have splashes of egg on their faces.
Sydney has surprised many during the opening stages of the tournament, winning its first two games quite convincingly. The Thunder surprised the Melbourne Stars in their opening match, with David Warner leading them to a six-wicket victory. Then fellow opener Chris Gayle smashed 100 not out off 54 balls, which included a record 11 sixes, to lead the Thunder to another memorable six-wicket victory over Adelaide last round.
However the highly-fancied Renegades have been probably the most disappointing team to date, especially for a side such a star-studded line-up. They were thrashed by the Strikers in their first game of the season away from home and then had no answer to scintillating Shaun Marsh as he led the Scorchers to a magnificent eight-wicket victory a few days later.
Why have the Renegades been so disappointing? Mainly because of their bowling. The Renegades have only claimed seven wickets in their two matches so far and have conceded a run-rate of 9.45 in both games. Their key bowlers in Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes have struggled to take wickets and have leaked too many runs.
The Thunder are expected to welcome back Tasmanian all-rounder Luke Butterworth, who missed the first two matches due to a hamstring injury. If Butterworth plays, he will give the Thunder an excellent medium pace option and some more than handy lower order runs if he is required to bat.
However the Renegades are due for a win here. With Hodge back in the side, the boys in red should break through for their first victory of the tournament.
Melbourne Renegades to win ($2.02 – Centrebet)
Brad Hodge Renegades High Bat ($3.75 – Centrebet)
Doug Bollinger Thunder Most Wickets ($4.00 – Centrebet)