While the rest of the league reels from a devastating Covid outbreak, Melbourne Renegades sit pretty and have now taken advantage of two straight depleted opponents to pile up easy points.
During their five-match losing streak to end 2021, they couldn’t buy a point and now in 2022, they have collected points in all three of their matches so far.
Their last game, a comfortable five-wicket win, was against a Brisbane Heat side that had lost a dozen players to Covid and was featuring six debutants.
Melbourne bowlers handled all Brisbane batters, except for debutant opener Jake Lehmann, who smashed 65 off 52 to help his side to a less than modest 128 for 6, which Melbourne got to quite easily.
The points garnered from the last three games mean that Melbourne, which had dwelled towards the foot of the table for long swathes at the rear end of 2021, are not back in playoff contention.
Sydney Thunder, pretty much like their opponents in this fixture, are the in-form team of the BBL right now, having notched four straight victories.
What’s even more impressive is that two of those four wins, including the last one, have been against league leaders Perth Scorchers, whom no other team has beaten so far this season.
Their latest win against Perth was the construct of their pacers, particularly Gurinder Sandhu, who claimed a hat-trick spanning two overs and restricted Perth to just 133 for 9.
In reply, the Thunder, who had Alex Hales back, looked pretty comfortable in the run chase, except for a slight late wobble, and got to the target with six wickets to spare.
The game was Saqib Mahmood and Sam Billings’ last. They will now return home to prepare for England’s West Indies series. Thankfully, they have a readymade replacement for Mahmood in Mohammad Hasnain. Billings’ loss will be hard to make up for.