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BBL Preview: 10 December – 13 December

THE Big Bash League has kicked off with some close games, and some equally one-sided floggings. Here are the pick of the games over the first full weekend of the tournament. 

Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder (Friday, 7:15pm) 

The Melbourne Stars got their season off to the worst start imaginable, being thumped to the tune of 152 runs by the Sydney Sixers in the season opener on Sunday. A five day break has given them time to restock their squad, with Andre Russell arriving, but whether it’ll be enough to turn things around against the Sydney Thunder – who started strongly – will be up for debate. 

The Stars were certainly understrength in the opener, but that was no excuse to be knocked over for 61 in 11 overs as they attempted to hunt down 213. Joe Clarke, Peter Nevill, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright still should make for a solid top seven, while their bowling was embarrassing at times. 

Still, a bounce back is on the agenda, and the arrival of Russell should help on that front. He brings with him a mountain of experience – 387 T20 games in total, averaging 26 with the bat and 25 with the ball, while being one of the most explosive cricketers on the planet. 

While not a great deal might have been expected of the Thunder this summer, their win over the Heat in the opening was commanding, chasing down 140 in 17.1 overs. Their top order will need to be better, of that there can be no doubt, but Alex Ross and Sam Billings were superb. The form of Daniel Sams and Gurinder Sandhu, who has had a wonderful start to the summer was also phenomenal. 

Still, Russell’s emergence should tip this in the favour of Melbourne. 

Our best bet: Melbourne Stars $1.62 at PlayUp

Sydney Sixers vs Hobart Hurricanes (Saturday, 6:35pm) 

For the second time this week, the Sydney Sixers will take on the Hobart Hurricanes. For the Sixers, it’ll be their third game in six days, marking a hectic start to the new season – not that it has slowed them down so far. 

The Sixers opening demolition of the Stars was followed by a tighter, but still convincing victory over the Hurricanes in their second match. Moises Henriques was the key as the side recovered from a top order collapse, with the veteran all-rounder scoring 73 off 48. 

He and Daniel Christian being in form is the key to the Sixers’ entire season, with the top order likely to find success more often than they don’t. Tom Curran is also critical with the ball for the side, and he took 3 for 27 in that game against the Hurricanes, but has done it time and time again on the big stage. 

The Hurricanes were spurred on by a bowling attack led by gun Tom Rogers and Australian rookie Nathan Ellis, but it’s their batting which is the key issue. Peter Handscomb managed 47 off 31 balls, but D’Arcy Short and Caleb Jewell were the only other batsmen over 20, with Short in particular looking all at sea. 

Matthew Wade failed, and he and Short will hold the key to a turnaround here. The Sixers, however, go in as favourites, and back at home, should get the job done. 

 Our best bet: Sydney Sixers $1.65 at PlayUp

Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers (Saturday, 9:30pm)

The first battle of the west this season will have plenty riding on it. The Scorchers and Strikers have both gotten their season off to winning starts, the Scorchers holding on for a six-run win over the Brisbane Heat, and the Strikers splitting their first two games with a win and a loss over the Renegades. 

The Strikers are predicted to be well down the ladder, and while their batting has taken a hit with Alex Carey and Travis Head out on Australian duty, it’s the bowling which has stood up. 

Daniel Worrall, Peter Siddle and Wes Agar in particular were all excellent against the Renegades in their second clash, but it’s Rashid Khan who holds the key. He took 2 for 17 from his four overs last time out, and it should hardly be a surprise, with the star spinner having 392 wickets to his name in 284 games at 17.62 in the shortest form of the game. 

Put simply, it’s an unbelievable record at just 23 years of age, but the Scorchers are far more well-rounded than the Strikers. Kurtis Patterson was the key to their opening win with the bat, scoring 55 off 30 balls, but Laurie Evans showed he will provide plenty as the season goes on, scoring 33 from 33. 

It wasn’t their batting which paved the way though, with Matt Kelly taking 4 for 28 and Andrew Tye 2 for 32, while Ashton Agar was extremely economical. It’s experience with the ball which will work well in this match up, given the Strikers lack of runs, but even without that, the Scorchers should be strong enough to get the job done. 

Our best bet: Perth Scorchers $1.60 at PlayUp


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