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The Battle of the lesser known teams when the Thunder take on the Renegades this Friday night. Both sides normally hang in the shadows of their city counterparts but they will take center stage when one of Australia's best domestic batsmen Aaron Finch will be faced by the return of the electric West Indian Chris Gayle.

The Thunder struggled in their opening game of the season and look like a Chris Gayle or Bust side, luckily for them the Renegades bowling attack has limited experience outside of the veteran Muralitharan. Samuels may provide some additional x factor but the drop in pitch at Stadium Australia generally provides a batsman's paradise.

The Thunder bowling attack features the ever reliable Nannes and Import Mahmood who was strong in last years big bash season, I'd expect both sides will focus more on the pace attack on the drop in pitch, although Gayle might produce a few overs of spin in a crucial spell.

This game really has the ability to go either way, both opening partnerships will crucial to the outcome of the game and if Gayle or Finch get out cheaply their sides are in trouble. Based on form we are sticking with the Renegades here to come out on top in what should be a tightly contested match

Best Bets
Melbourne Renegades Victory - @ $1.77
Race to 20 Runs(Renegades) - Aaron Finch @ $1.95

Highest Individual Score - 100 Runs or More @ $10

 
 
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The Adelaide strikers take on the Brisbane heat at the Adelaide oval  Thursday night with both teams coming off contrasting results in round 1. The strikers got the job done easily against what looks to be a poor Perth side whereas the heat put up a fight but ultimately didn’t score enough runs against a quality Hobart outfit. 

The heat have been told Dayle Stein will not be released to play for them this season whilst West Indian quick Kemar Roach is unlikely to
play due to missing a flight out of Bangadesh! Injury plagued Ryan Harris is out for the season and Shane Watson will now be on duty with the Australian side so is also out of this match.


The strikers will be without game one man of the match Phil Hughes who is back in favour with test selectors for the time being.  They do however possess  many players who play together for South Australia and are a side that perform better at 20/20 level then other formats. For some reason the Strikers must have veteran fever as they have recalled spinner Brad Young who played six one day matches for Australia back in 1999. 

The key match up here will be West Indian T20 star Keiron Pollard vs South Australian turned Brisbane heat player Dan Christian. Pollard is only just arriving in Australia after beating up on Bangladesh whilst Christian hit a bit of form last game and will be keen get a win to send a message to those South Australian cricket authorities who suspended him last month for a shield game. Christian will need to take wickets and make quick runs for the heat to win the game but at the odds I think it worth following. 
 
After starting last season with four straight losses the heat know that a win here is imperative to not lose touch with the rest of the competition and I think they will lift here. 
 
Best bets

Brisbane Heat to win $2.10

Dan Christian MOM $TBA

Most runs for South Australia Nathan Reardon $5.00 – take the Queenslander to fire up against his teammates. He is in good form and should contribute again.

 
 
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An interesting match up here in the first of the round two matches. Both these sides are coming off disappointing losses in round one and need to bounce back quickly here. For Warne’s Melbourne stars they were smashed to every part of the ground by Aaron Finch whilst the plain Perth Scorchers were on the end of some Phillip Hughes & Nathan Reardon punishment. 

Reports suggest Shaun Marsh will be joining his brother Mitchell back out on the pub stools of Fremantle’s finest as he has also suffered a hamstring injury. This is a huge loss for the Scorchers who are really going to struggle to find enough runs to post a competitive score here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Simon Katich pushed up to opener who even in his prime I wouldn’t have had in my 20/20 side. The Scorchers also look weak in the bowling department with Michael Beer and Brag Hogg not hitting the right areas for a Perth pitch. 

Game two couldn’t come quick enough for the great S.K.Warne who was humiliated is his sides first outing and a wounded Warney will be dangerous. I hear that Liz is also on the sick bed so I wouldn’t expect her to make the flight across to Perth which I think is a real positive for Warney as he also does his best work solo.

The result of this game is a no brainer for me, the Melbourne stars will have this won with five overs to spare. The bowling line up which includes Malinga, Bird and McKay for speed then Faulkner, Hussey and Warne can change the pace up if need be will be too strong and smart for an old Perth line up. Had they dismissed Aaron Finch 30-40 runs earlier they could have won last week. The stars also possess a batting line up which will have to many guns for the poor Scorchers bowlers.

Best Bets
Take the Melbourne Stars outright at  $1.70 - that is a banker 

This is also a good opportunity to take some exotic bets as we know who will win the game. 

The Scorchers have terrible opening bowlers with the new ball so take one of the Stars playing from the top 3 for most runs as they should get off to a flyer. Form is everything in a short competition like this so I lean
towards Luke Wright @ $4.33

I liked the look of Clint Mckay last week and prior to his injury was one of the best T20 bowlers Australia has so take him for Man of the Match @ $21.00


 


 
 
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The Champions League and Big Bash winners Sydney Sixers kick off their campaign against interstate rivals the Sydney Thunder on Saturday night in what should be a real entertainer.

The Sixers side is an interesting side full of hit and miss players who can swing a game at any moment, the side also holds a fair share of talented players who can do damage on both sides of the ball. Being lead by deadly openers Warner and Haddin it's easy to see why this side is so heavily favored

The Thunder meanwhile are the less recognizable side with the omission of Michael Clarke from the game, but as Aaron Finch from the Renegades showed all it takes is one player to turn the tide for a side in this competition. With Usman Khawaja out to impress after not being selected for the Australian test side, this side will desperate to turn the tables on their rivals.

Playing at the SCG rather than Telstra Stadium benefits the Thunder more than the Sixers in this game as the Thunder will need the assistance of the pitch to limit the big hitting of the Sixers.

The Squads
Sydney Sixers
Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Josh Lalor, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Nic Maddinson, Jeevan Mendis, Ian Moran, Sunil Narine, Stephen O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Daniel Smith, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, David Warner

Sydney Thunder
Sean Abbott, Cameron Borgas, Ryan Carters, Michael Clarke, Mark Cosgrove, Adam Coyte, Scott Coyte, Luke Doran, Jason Floros, Chris Gayle, Rhett Lockyear, Azhar Mahmood, Dirk Nannes, Gurinder Sandhu, Chris Tremain, Usman Khawaja, Chris Rogers, Martin Guptill, Matt Prior, Adam Zampa

Outcome
No Chris Gayle has to give the edge to the Sixers here as Warner and Haddin are the class proven players, but this Sixers side will lack consistent throughout the big bash and will potentially have middle order collapses which doesn't bring any confidence in taking short odds about a Sixers Victory.

So instead we will focus on individual prices.

Best Bets
Thunder Highest Scorer - Usman Khawaja @ $4.00
Batting Head to Head - Guptill v Khawaja - Khawaja @ $1.90