Surging Sydney Thunder face a potential season-defining week in the BBL as they chase a top-two spot.
The Thunder made it five straight wins and moved above local rivals Sydney Sixers into second with a 129-run victory over Melbourne Renegades at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Their next three games are against the two teams immediately below them In third and fourth.
They are seven points ahead of the fourth-placed Hurricanes, who they face at the MCG on Monday and at Marvel Stadium on Thursday.
After that is before the derby match next Saturday at the SCG against the Sixers, who they lead by four points, though the defending champions have a game in hand.
Saturday’s rout was achieved despite acting captain Chris Green having to isolate from the rest of the squad, after being deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Also missing was first-choice skipper Usman Khawaja, who hasn’t played a BBL fixture this season due while working his wonders with the Australian Test squad, and influential imports Sam Billings and Saqib Mahmood, who were called up by England.
Alex Ross, who leads Thunder’s batting averages, and Sam Whiteman, also missed another game after both tested positive for COVID.
All these setbacks have given other players opportunities to step up, particularly exciting young batters, Jason Sangha, Matthew Gilkes and Oliver Davies.
Mahmood has been replaced by young Pakistan paceman Mohammad Hasnain, who has grabbed three wickets in each of his first two games at an average of 7.00.
All five wins in the current streak were by convincing margins, four of them achieved after they batted first.
In those games, Thunder piled up scores of 200, 187, 172 and 209, with five different players scoring a half-century across those matches.
“We have such great depth in our squad. To have someone of Brendan Doggett’s class to have played only one game so far says a lot,'” said Green, whose availability for the Thunder’s upcoming games has still to be determined.
“We have Alex Ross coming back soon, Sam Whiteman, we have a lot of guys waiting for their opportunity.”
Hard-hitting English opener Alex Hales and young legspinner Tanveer Sangha each made a big impact on Saturday after both missed the last three matches after returning a positive COVID test.
Hales belted a season-best 63 off 28 balls and Sangha took 2-12 off three overs, including a sensational delivery to bowl Australian T20 captain Aaron Finch.
Daniel Sams relished his promotion to number four, smashing eight sixes in an unbeaten T20 career-high 98 off 44 balls.
Paceman Gurinder Sandhu followed up his hat-trick and figures of 4-22 In the previous game by taking 2-8.