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The battle for a play-off spot continues in Canberra on Thursday
  1. Cricket
  2. Big Bash

Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades preview: Battle for play-off phase intensifies

There are just a handful of games left in the regular season of Big Bash 2022/23 and Thursday's encounter will see play-off chasing duo Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades face off.

Defending champions the Perth Scorchers and the Sydney Sixers have been the two standout teams in the 12th edition of the tournament Down Under, as they sit first and second respectively with 18 and 17 points each.

Just three points then separates third-place Renegades to Brisbane Heat in seventh, and with the top five progressing to the next stage, there is still lots to play for in the remaining matches.

A win for Melbourne on Thursday would move them onto 14 points and a step closer to the play-off phase, while victory for Sydney would catapult them into the qualification positions.

WhatSydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades
WhereManuka Oval, Canberra
When19:15, Thursday 19th January
How to watchChannel 7, Fox Cricket, Kayo & bet365 Sports Live Streaming
OddsSydney Thunder 4/5, Melbourne Renegades 1/1

Huge game for both sides

With both Sydney and Melbourne having just two matches left after this encounter and the fact they are only separated by two points, Thursday's clash is absolutely pivotal to their chances of progressing.

The Thunder's next outing is against the Sixers, an encounter they will find difficult to win, but their final game comes against rock-bottom Melbourne Stars and that is definitely one they will look to be coming out on top in.

As for the Renegades, they take on table-toppers Perth after the trip to the Manuka Oval before they then host Adelaide Strikers, who are battling hard for a top-five finish and will be no easy pushovers.

Looking at the run of games, it seems more crucial that Melbourne come away with the win on Thursday and they are the in-form team heading into this fixture.

The Renegades have won three of their last four assignments and they will be confident of overcoming the Thunder, who have lost their last three and are slipping down the standings at the wrong time.

Confidence is higher within the Melbourne camp right now and the 1/1 available on them To Win the Match is appealing.

Harper coming up big for Melbourne

Aaron Finch may be the leading run-scorer for the Renegades, amassing 257 runs, but the star of the show in recent matches has been wicket-keeper Sam Harper.

The 26-year-old has scored 51, 63 and 89 in his last three innings, top-scoring for his side each time, and it is 10/3 for him to be his team's Top Batter for the fourth straight game.

Harper has an impressive strike-rate of 157.53 and there are only three players that have played seven or more innings that boast a better record than that.

Related Cricket News

Sydney Sixers v Adelaide Strikers: Sixers can add to Strikers’ woes

Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes preview: Table toppers face tough test

Davies in fine form

While Harper has been doing the business for Melbourne, it has been Ollie Davies wielding the bat with authority of late and he has hit three half-centuries from his last five innings.

The 22-year-old Australian will be hoping he can continue his impressive performances and the 10/3 on him to be his team's Top Batter is difficult to overlook.

Harper is his side's leading run-scorer in the tournament, compiling an impressive total of 323 so far, while he has an average of 35.88 and a strike-rate of 141.66.

Runs a concern for Sydney

Although Davies has been coming to the fore for Sydney of late, the team has generally struggled to post or chase big totals during the tournament and this lack of batting power could cost them.

The Thunder had the embarrassment of being bowled out for 15 in their second match, while they have also been restricted to less than 150 a further six times.

Worryingly for Sydney, four of these scores less than 150 have come in their last four outings and the alarming form with the bat makes it hard to back them with any real confidence.

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