7:10pm local time on Saturday, January 9, 2016 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
$2.12 at CrownBet.com
Ladder position: 6th
BBL form: W L L L W
$1.80 at Bet365.com
BBL form: L L W W W
The second Melbourne derby of Big Bash League 2015-16 will have some extra spice after the events of the last week.
Over 80,000 people packed into the MCG to watch the Stars down the Renegades on Saturday, and organisers are predicting a sellout crowd of 50,000-plus for the follow-up at Etihad Stadium.
But the ticket sales, the rivalry and even the cricket itself will take a back seat this weekend as the public eye hones in on one man in a world of trouble.
Chris Gayle’s infamous interview with Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin has sparked widespread outrage in news outlets and social media over the last few days, rather overshadowing Melbourne Renegades’ dominant win over Hobart Hurricanes.
The Jamaican star’s behaviour has earned him much more than a $10,000 slap on the wrist, with reports claiming that Gayle – who now faces a string of allegations over past indiscretions – will not be invited back for future BBL campaigns.
It remains to be seen whether the former West Indies captain will take the field amid this firestorm of controversy, but such drama is the last thing the Renegades need as they look to resurrect a faltering campaign.
The win in Hobart on Monday has just about kept David Saker’s men in the finals race, but another defeat to their crosstown rivals would leave them with four losses from six games and an awful lot of ground to make up.
It will be hard work against a Stars outfit which has now won three in a row and sits only two points from the top of the table.
However, the green half of Melbourne will be missing several key names due to Australia’s upcoming ODI series against India.
Allrounders Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner are out, along with in-form fast bowler Scott Boland.
The Renegades will wave goodbye to captain Aaron Finch and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, although they will regain Test glovesman Peter Nevill with the conclusion of the Frank Worrell Trophy.
The Docklands-based franchise may also be able to call upon James Pattinson for the first time this season, although much will depend on how strictly Cricket Australia wish to manage the injury-prone seamer’s workloads.
Result – Melbourne Stars to win ($1.80 at Bet365)
Most match sixes – Melbourne Renegades ($2 at Bet365)
Highest opening partnership – Melbourne Stars ($2 at Bet365)
With their rivals missing some of their biggest talents, the Renegades will view this as a huge opportunity.
However, the Stars’ form players are still present: namely Luke Wright, who smacked a match-winning century when these teams clashed a week ago, and fast bowler John Hastings.
There’s also a certain Kevin Pietersen lurking in the ranks.
Yes, they will have to draw on their depth to cover Faulkner, Maxwell and Boland, but the Stars are the team to beat here.
Chris Gayle betting markets
Who else could we possibly pick as our feature player?
If he plays, the big West Indian opener is likely to cop all sorts from players and punters alike.
He’s also a good chance to give it right back with a few brutish slogs over the midwicket boundary.
With Finch out, the Renegades will rely more heavily than ever on Gayle’s powerful top-order hitting to get them off on the right foot.
He has yet to notch a half-century in BBL05, but 155 runs in five outings shows he’s making plenty of solid starts.
A big innings here would be just the ticket after a horror week.
Big Bash bets for Chris Gayle vs. Melbourne Stars
Top match batsman – $5
Top Renegades runscorer – $3.20
Top Renegades wicket-taker – $11
Man of the match – $7.50
Odds provides by www.Sportsbet.com