Melbourne Renegades will be up against Brisbane Heat in the tenth match of BBL 2022-23 at the Simonds Stadium, Geelong, on Wednesday.
The Renegades have had a dismal run in the BBL in recent years, having finished at the bottom of the points table in each of the last three editions after winning their maiden title in 2018-19. Led by Nic Maddinson, they have made a fine start to this year’s campaign, with back-to-back wins over Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder helping them sit second in the points table currently.
Maddinson produced a clinic against the Heat, and looked in fine touch against the Thunder too, indicating fine form. The biggest positive, though, would be the match-winning contribution of former captain Aaron Finch, who has had a tough run in international cricket in recent times. Young guns Sam Harper and Jake Fraser McGurk add more firepower to the top-order, with the stability of Jonathan Wells and the belligerence of Ander Russell to follow.
Akeal Hosein has been highly effective in the powerplay overs, a role performed by Imad Wasim in the past, and the X-factor of Mujeeb Ur Rahman adds further depth to the spin department. Kane Richardson leads the fast bowling unit, comprising Tom Rogers, Will Sutherland and Russell.
The Heat, meanwhile, might perhaps need some time seeking their best combination, with Chris Lynn having parted ways after a long association. Colin Munro, Sam Billings and skipper Jimmy Peirson hold the key in an otherwise inexperienced line-up.
James Bazley showed sparks of brilliance on either front in the opener and would play key support to the seam attack comprising Mark Steketee and Xavier Bartlett, with Mitchell Swepson and Matthew Kuhnemann to lead on the spin front.
Colin Munro, having not played for New Zealand since February 2020, has been in fine T20 form in various franchise-leagues across the globe. Having represented the Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers in the BBL in the past, including numerous match-winning performances for the latter, Munro now finds himself as one of the key batters in the Heat outfit. The left-hander boasts a fine record in T20 cricket overall, with 8952 runs at a strike-rate of 140.48 with five hundreds and 52 fifties till date.
Mitchell Swepson has been one of Australia’s finest modern-day spinners, but has largely been under the shadow of Nathan Lyon in Test cricket and Adam Zampa in white-ball internationals. He started brilliantly in his first game of BBL 12 against the Renegades, before being hit for consecutive sixes by Andre Russell in his final over, still returning 1/30 from four overs. The right-arm wrist-spinner has bagged 65 wickets in T20 cricket till date, 54 of which have come in the BBL.
Aaron Finch had an unforgettable 2022 in ODIs and T20Is at the top of the order, with him calling it quits from the former format a few months back. Finch, one of the most destructive openers in the white-ball modern-day game, has moved to the middle order this season, and his brilliant 70* off 43 in Renegades’ four-wicket win against Sydney Thunder on Sunday, might just be the turnaround he needed. The T20 World Cup 2021 winning captain is the second-highest run-scorer in BBL history, with 2891 runs at 35.25. Overall, he has aggregated 11038 T20 runs at a strike-rate of 139.36, with eight hundreds and 74 fifties till date.
Andre Russell, the two-time T20 World Cup winner for the West Indies and a champion in numerous T20 leagues across the globe, has announced himself in the Renegades outfit already with his power-packed ball-striking and resourceful medium pace. Russell hit a valuable 35 in his first BBL 12 outing against the Heat and dismissed Sam Billings in the second innings, before having a fairly underwhelming second outing against his former franchise Thunder. Russell has aggregated 7218 runs at a brilliant strike-rate of 168.64 in T20s to go with 383 wickets.
Renegades, given their winning start to the campaign and the overall team combination, begin favourites for their second clash against the Heat at BBL 2022-23. The inexperience on either front makes it further challenging for the Peirson-led side.