Muttiah Muralitharan ... set to open the bowling for the Melbourne Renegades against Hobart Hurricanes. Photo: Reuters
BIG BASH LEAGUE leaders Melbourne Renegades will consider using spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan to open the bowling to try to unsettle Hobart Hurricanes opener Ricky Ponting.
The Renegades host the Hurricanes in their round three clash at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, with their spin line-up of Murali and Aaron O'Brien proving the most suffocating in the Twenty20 competition.
Melbourne skipper Aaron Finch said they were key to the unheralded side's blazing start.
''At the moment you'd have to say yes [they're the best in the league],'' he said. ''I think the advantage of Murali is that he brings that mystery factor with him, so teams probably have to sit back and have a look at him more, which allows us to try and sneak through a couple of quick overs from him.''
The veteran Sri Lankan has had able assistance from left-arm spinner O'Brien, who had figures of 3-15 and 2-27 in their opening two games.
''The way he's [O'Brien] come in and just dominated has been outstanding,'' Finch said. ''He really did a job with the new ball in the first game, which is what we wanted.''
Finch said he would ''definitely'' consider opening with the two spinners coming up against Ponting and Tim Paine, who will open for Hobart. ''It's something we'll have to sit down and assess hard I'm sure,'' he said.
The Hurricanes lost their last outing, against Melbourne Stars, with Ponting making eight.
But after retiring this month from Test cricket, Finch said he was a danger player that the Renegades would have to eliminate early.
''We're targeting him to get him out early, no doubt,'' he said. ''He can win a match from anywhere and turn it on when he needs to.
''That can really put them on the back foot early, if we can knock over him and Travis Birt and try to get into Owais Shah and guys like that in the six overs.''
As well as the Hurricanes, the Renegades have games against Brisbane and Perth before the new year and Finch felt it could really set up their tournament if they finished with three from three.
''It's going to be a tough time and we know we're going to have to be at our best to beat these guys,'' he said.
''Two and zero is a great position to be but it means nothing if we don't capitalise in these next three games.
''It's going to be really important that we maintain that and really try to push hard to get a finals berth wrapped up and not be one of the teams trying to scrape into third and fourth place later in the tournament.''