It shapes as a season-turning match for both sides of Melbourne on Saturday night, and a packed Etihad Stadium crowd is set to watch the Renegades and the Stars do battle under the closed roof.
The Renegades have made two important inclusions into their squad, with James Pattinson and Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera coming in for Cam Stevenson and Nathan Rimmington.
Perera has been signed as the Renegades’ injury replacement for Dwayne Bravo, and will be available for the remainder of BBL|06.
The Stars have made one change to their squad, with Rob Quiney returning from a hamstring injury and Seb Gotch making way.
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Melbourne Renegades v Melbourne Stars
Saturday January 7, Etihad Stadium
7:10pm EDT, live on Channel 10
Aaron Finch (C), Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Marcus Harris, Brad Hogg, Trent Lawford, Sunil Narine, Peter Nevill, Thisara Perera, Chris Tremain, Matt Short, James Pattinson, Cameron White
In: Thisara Perera, James Pattinson
Out: Cameron Stevenson, Nathan Rimmington
David Hussey (C), Michael Beer, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Evan Gulbis, Sam Harper, Ben Hilfenhaus, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Luke Wright, Adam Zampa
In: Rob Quiney
Out: Seb Gotch
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The long-awaited return of James Pattinson changes the dynamic of the Renegades’ bowling attack.
Now with a second genuine new-ball bowler alongside Chris Tremain, the Renegades have multiple options if the opposition get off to a flying start.
Tom Cooper’s opening overs during the tournament have proven arguably more successful than anyone anticipated, while the possibility of Sunil Narine bowling more in the powerplay has also been floated at times.
With the exception of Michael Klinger, noted thorn in the Renegades’ side, very few batsmen have been able to get on top of the bowling attack so far in the tournament.
Having multiple options to turn to at any one time is an aim of any T20 side, particularly early on in an innings.
As Aaron Finch mentioned after the New Year’s Day derby at the MCG, most teams are ‘pretty set in what they want to do’ during the powerplay, and therefore forcing a team to deviate from that can be counted as a little win.
Sunil Narine opening the batting for the Renegades on Sunday could potentially be counted as such an occurrence.
Not only did his quick-fire 21 help his side start off with all the momentum, the early run rate gave Cameron White and Tom Cooper time to get settled in when they arrived at the crease with the side in trouble.
Whether the Renegades opt for the same move at Etihad Stadium remains to be seen, but the first three games of the summer have shown they’re willing to think outside conventional match tactics to gain an edge on their opponents.
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The victory against the Stars at the MCG snapped a six-game losing streak to the team in green, and provided a huge confidence boost to the Renegades.
Winning both derbies in a season provides a dual-edged boost. Not only does it place you essentially halfway towards a finals berth – four wins plus a solid net run rate has been enough to qualify in recent seasons – it also makes it extremely tough for the loser of both to regain ground.
It’s no coincidence the Renegades missed out on finals in each of the last three seasons after losing both games to the Stars.