Big Bash Preview January 20-21: Heat v Renegades, Hurricanes v Scorchers, Stars v Sixers

Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades | Friday, January 20-21, 9.40pm (AEDT), Gabba

Brisbane can lock in top spot and an all-important home final with a victory.

The Heat welcome back Brendon McCullum after a much-publicised one-match ban for slow over rates that was widely condemned by current and former players.

In his absence, the likes of Alex Ross and Test discard Joe Burns stepped up to guide their successful chase at the MCG on Tuesday. They’ll be asked to provide run support to the skipper again.

Ace slow bowler Samuel Badree is also a chance to return as the Heat search for their best combination ahead of the semis.

Fellow spinner Mitchell Swepson has had a big week. Included in the Test squad for the tour of India, the young leggie too advantage of favourable conditions to put the clamp on the Stars.

While many different playoff permutations abound, the immediate equation for the Renegades is straightforward, they need to take care of business here.

They broke a three-match drought with a much-needed win in Adelaide, thanks largely to opener Marcus Harris (pictured above) who justified his recent recall with an invaluable 85 to anchor the innings.

Is Peter Nevill the unluckiest man in cricket? Scapegoated for the Test team’s early summer failings, he’s subsequently been in the wars behind the stumps on two separate occasions.

The latest incident, where he was struck by a flying bat, leaves the Renegades without a recognised keeper in their squad ahead of this match.

Aaron Finch has filled the position but mooted the possibility of bringing in a specialist gloveman subject to approval.

Unibet Odds: Brisbane Heat 1.90 Melbourne Renegades 1.90

Tip: Heat

Hobart Hurricanes v Perth Scorchers | Saturday, January 21, 4.20pm (AEDT), Blundstone Arena

A win for the Hurricanes could be enough to see them sneak an unlikely finals berth should both the Renegades and Sixers taste defeat.

They have been less than impressive on home soil though and will want to repay the support of their faithful fans.

Damien Wright’s side have had a lengthy break since their last fixture, where the records well and truly tumbled!

Ben McDermott’s (pictured above) thumping 114 was the highest individual score in franchise history and allowed the Hurricanes to mow down an improbable 223 at the Docklands.

Perth are still in the mix to host a final and can put pressure on the Stars with a healthy win.

Their top order really needs to stand up though, after a woeful last-start performance saw them reduced to an unrecoverable 4/13 within the power play.

An established star of this format, Shaun Marsh has had a hugely disappointing campaign and needs to produce for his team.

The all-round skills of AJ Tye (pictured above) are holding the Scorchers together at the minute and he could do with some support.

Thankfully, both Sam Whiteman and Adam Voges are a chance to return for this match after being sidelined with concussion and hamstring issues respectively.

Unibet Odds: Hobart Hurricanes 2.25 Perth Scorchers 1.65

Tip: Scorchers

Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers | Saturday, January 21, 7.25pm (AEDT), MCG, Melbourne

Crucially, these two sides will enter the final match of the regular season knowing precisely what is required of them.

The Stars were unable to take advantage of a weakened Brisbane outfit after a disastrous start saw both Rob Quiney and Kevin Pietersen dismissed in the opening over.

KP has had a good tournament though and along with countryman Luke Wright (pictured above) would appear to hold the key to their batting.

The Australian selectors haven’t done the Stars any favours, with both Peter Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis called up to the ODI squad this week to replace the injured Chris Lynn and Mitch Marsh.

There is a chance that one of the Stars bevvy of all-rounders will be released from national team duty to play in this match though, so it may be worth waiting until the final XI’s are confirmed.

The Sixers enter this ‘must-win’ match low on confidence after a disastrous derby performance saw them held to the second lowest completed 20 over score in tournament history.

The magenta outfit are stacked with left-handers in their top order and might be better served promoting Brad Haddin to open in an attempt to disrupt the bowler’s lines.

Sean Abbott (pictured above) has also gone a little cold of late after a brilliant start to the tournament and his ability to contain the Stars’ batsman will be crucial to the visitor’s chances.

Unibet Odds: Melbourne Stars 1.81 Sydney Sixers 2.00

Tip: Stars

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