Big Bash League 2017/8: Melbourne Renegades Preview

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ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Tom Cooper of the Melbourne Renegades is congratulated by Peter Nevill of the Melbourne Renegades after taking the wicket of Ben Dunk of the Adelaide Strikers during the Big Bash League match between the Adelaide Strikers and the Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval on January 16, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

The Melbourne Renegades missed out on qualification last year after having a lower net run rate than their Melbourne rivals. Their explosive batting unit was their main strength, with captain Aaron Finch leading from the front. West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine was their leading wicket taker, but he is no longer with the Renegades. To fill his place they have signed Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi and West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard. These extra additions to their squad could be key for the Melbourne Renegades and could drive them over the line to reach the play-offs.

Batting

There is no shortage of firepower at the top of the Melbourne Renegades’ batting unit. Skipper Aaron Finch was the second highest run scorer in last year’s competition, with 354 runs in eight innings. This was at an average of over 44 and at a strike rate above 160. Admittedly Finch struggled in his latest T20I series against India and his domestic form since then has been inconsistent. Recent first-class scores of 21,76,43,0,3,62 highlight his varying form. Finch is a very experienced T20I batsman, having an international hundred in this format. He holds the key for the Renegades and will look to replicate his fine form from last season.
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Cameron White and Marcus Harris will also be crucial to the Renegades’ chances. Harris is set to open alongside Finch, with White taking the number three role. These two batsmen had decent seasons in the Big Bash 06, scoring over 220 runs and averaging over 30. This top order has vast amounts of potential and if each of them fire, the Renegades could post some huge totals. In addition to them, the Renegades have a strong middle and lower order. West Indian all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo could both feature in their side, providing lots of depth and offering bowling options. Brad Hodge and Jack Wildermuth are also likely to feature for the Renegades.

Bowling

Sunil Narine’s absence has been neatly covered by the Melbourne Renegades, who drafted in Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi. It is almost a like-for-like replacement, as Finch hailed Nabi’s “crafty off-spin” in a similar manner to Narine’s. However, Nabi will have big shoes to fill. Last year Narine was the leading wicket taker for the Renegades, with 13 wickets in eight innings. This was the fifth highest wicket-haul in the competition, level with Australian quick Mitchell Johnson. Nabi will have some support in the spin department, from Brad Hogg and Cameron White. Hogg is now an incredible 46 years of age, but still had a great season last time out and is still expected to cause problems this year.
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In terms of their fast bowling, James Pattinson was set to lead their attack but a back injury has throw his whole playing career into doubt. Pattinson, if fit, would have pushed for Ashes selection, but it is now unclear when he will actually return to playing competitive cricket. His last competitive appearance was for Nottinghamshire against Surrey in the Royal London One Day Cup Final. Chris Tremain and Kane Richardson will spearhead the Renegades’ attack in his absence. Kieron Pollard could also chip in with a few overs of medium pace in the middle overs, while death-bowling specialist Dwayne Bravo will finish off the back overs. Last year they heavily relied on their spinners and this year is likely to be the same.

How will they do?

The Melbourne Renegades are in a solid position to push for qualification this year. Their squad has been improved on last year, where they narrowly missed out. It would be a surprise if they didn’t qualify and Renegades fans should expect big things from this group of talented players.

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