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BBL Preview: 15 January – 17 January

THE BBL season is closing in on the end, with the finals picture still well and truly up for dispute as four teams battle for the final spot. Here is the pick of the games to come over the weekend. 

Adelaide Strikers vs Melbourne Stars (Saturday, January 15, 10:40am) 

The Melbourne Stars might have a game in hand against the other teams they are battling for fifth spot on the final ladder with, but it will count for nothing if they can’t pull a win out of the fire against the Adelaide Strikers on Saturday morning. 

The Stars have been arguably the most-impacted team when it comes to the impacts of the coronavirus on the competition, and while their form prior to the outbreak didn’t help them either, their five and six record has them just inside the top five. 

 That said, this is must-win for both teams. If the Strikers don’t manage a win from their perilous three and eight record, it’ll be curtains on their season too with the Stars going well ahead in the count. The Strikers, thus far, have been more or less saved by numerous bash bonus points. 

But that can only get you so far, and while they hammered the Brisbane Heat last time out, they only scored 150 or more once in the four games prior to that performance against Brisbane. 

The Stars, on the other hand, are coming back into form with stars returning left, right and centre, and while they are in a packed part of the schedule as they catch up games, they handed the Melbourne Renegades a thumping on Thursday evening, and hammered the Strikers last time the teams met on Monday. 

The single biggest issue for the Strikers will be slowing down the Stars’ batting. Led by Joe Clarke (313 runs at 31, strike rate 147), it’s an order which also features the outrageously in-form Hilton Cartwright (285 runs at 31, strike rate 143) and dangerous Glenn Maxwell. With the Strikers bowling attack struggling all season long, that should be all the reasoning you need to back the men in green. 

Sydney Sixers vs Sydney Thunder (Saturday, January 15, 6:40pm) 

A late-season Sydney Smash at the Sydney Cricket Ground with plenty riding on it – Big Bash bosses couldn’t have hoped for much more, with both the magenta and green teams putting together excellent seasons thus far. 

The Sixers and Thunder both sit at the right end of the ladder, although the Sixers have dropped off in the way of form, suffering a washout before losing two of their last three. The Thunder, on the other hand, have been on a remarkable surge up the table to now sit second, although they have played one extra game compared to their cross-town rivals. 

That form did hit the skids with a narrow loss to the Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday evening, however, they still managed to post 168 chasing a big score of 177. Despite their winning ways, the Thunder’s bowling has been something of a worry, with Daniel Sams their best, taking 16 wickets, while English quick Saqid Mahmood has 13 in just six games, however, they go at eight and nine runs per over respectively. 

Gurinder Sandhu has been the surprising key with the ball, going at just six and a half runs per over, however, the lack of economical bowling around him could hurt despite how strong the Thunder’s batting has been. 

The Sixers possess one of the most potent line-ups in the competition, with Josh Philippe leading the way, on 327 runs for the season, while Moises Henriques has also been outstanding, backed up by a series of other useful contributions. 

With a weight of runs and experience, as well as a way of keeping the runs conceded down, the Sixers should win this one and surge back level with the Thunder on the table. 

Brisbane Heat vs Perth Scorchers (Monday, January 17, 8:15pm) 

The Brisbane Heat will put it all on the line come Monday evening in a clash which will determine whether they can cling onto their last ditch hopes at making the finals when they take on the Perth Scorchers in a game which has been shifted to Melbourne in line with the tournament’s decision to move all eight teams into a hub. 

The Heat’s form has been shoddy to say the least, losing three of their last five, and a do or die game against the red-hot Scorchers, who have only lost two out of twelve all year, is most certainly not what the doctor ordered. 

Brisbane have felt just a few pieces of the puzzle away from putting it all together, but whether it be a lack of useful contributions with the bat, or a lack of consistency with their bowling, it’s hard to see them knocking over the Scorchers, or playing deep into the finals should they eventually make it there. 

The Scorchers themselves have relied on individual performances at times with the bat, however, their work with the ball has been first-rate. Between AJ Tye, Matthew Kelly, Ashton Agar, Tymal Mills, Jason Behrendorff and Peter Hatzogolou, they have six bowlers who have all taken more than ten wickets, which is well ahead of any other team, while all six concede less than eight runs per over. 

That sort of work with the ball means they haven’t had to rely on their batting, and puts enormous pressure on opposition line-ups. Given the Heat have only posted 150 or more twice in their last six games, and crumbled for just 90 last time out against the Adelaide Strikers, this looks a bridge too far for them. 

Scorchers to win and lock up top spot on the table. 


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