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BBL preview: 19th January

THE final day of the Big Bash League regular season is here, with six teams in action and the final make-up of the finals to be confirmed. Here is the preview of all three matches. 

Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Sixers (The Gabba, 1:05pm) 

The Brisbane Heat, who have slipped out of contention for the finals, will kick off the final day of the season against the Sixers in a game which still has plenty riding on it for the visitors. 

The Sixers currently sit on 31 points, equal with cross-town rivals the Sydney Thunder in second place, but ahead by a slim margin on net run rate. A win here though could almost secure them second place on the table and a slightly easier run under the BBL’s top-five finals format. 

But the Sixers form has been on the skids. They have lost three of their last five and are desperate to turn things around with a win here. Their loss to the Sydney Sixers on Monday evening was something of a surprise though and it seems they are slipping at the wrong end of the season. 

However, with experience galore and the Brisbane Heat having lost all of their last five straight, they still come into this clash as heavy favourites. It’s impossible to ignore the form of Josh Philippe who has scored 406 runs at 36.9 for the tournament at a strike rate of almost 150, while Moises Henriques has also wracked up 375 runs.  

Given the Heat’s struggles with the bat, that should be more than enough to see the Sixers over the line and into second spot. 

Our best bet: Sydney Sixers $1.52 at PlayUp 

Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Renegades (MCG, 4:10pm) 

The Sydney Thunder will know exactly what they need to do against the bottom of the table Melbourne Renegades by the tie they walk onto the MCG on Wednesday afternoon. 

If the Sixers have won their earlier game, it’ll be win by a mammoth margin to flip the Net Run Rate difference, but if the Heat manage to cause an upset, then the Thunder will simply need to win by any margin – or even tie – to move into second spot. Of course, bash bonus points could also come into play. 

The Thunder were on an incredible run during the second half of the season, however, much like their cross-town rivals, have hit the skids, losing their last two on the trot against the Sixers and Hobart Hurricanes. 

Of particular concern has been their efforts in the field, conceding 177 and 197 runs across those two games. It’s a discipline they had gotten right on top of, only letting in 139, 80, 133 and 144 during their previous four games before the losses. 

That leaves them needing a monstrous turnaround in the field, which needs to be led by Daniel Sams, Saqib Mahmood and Tanveer Sangha, who have taken 18, 13 and 12 wickets for the season, however, with Sams and Mahmood going at 8.4 and 9.1 runs per over respectively, it’s not hard to see why totals have gotten away from them. 

However, playing against the bottom of the table Renegades will be the opportunity to do just that, with the men in red struggling enormously. They have won just three out of 12 games this season and have lost their last three with scores of just 80, 105 and 122. 

That said, they have virtually no chance of turning things around that dramatically in a game with little meaning to them, and the Thunder will win handsomely. 

Melbourne Stars vs Hobart Hurricanes (MCG, 7:50pm) 

The Melbourne Stars will be relying on their cross-town rivals to get the better of the Hobart Hurricanes in a Tuesday night game to have something still riding on this clash, but if they do, then it could be a winner take all duel for the final spot in the finals, with two points currently (at the time of writing) separating the sides on the ladder. 

The Hurricanes though, should they beat the Renegades, will be pushing for another win to clamber up to fourth on the ladder and host the elimination final to open the knockout campaign in the BBL. 

Both teams have won two of their last three and this is a tough clash to tip given the general incosnstency which has been on display from both sides throughout the course of the season. 

The Stars hit their straps against the Heat last time out though, chasing down 149 in just 13.5 overs as English star Joe Clarke whacked 62 off just 36 balls, while Glenn Maxwell has handy contributions with both bat and ball. They were aided by Marcus Stoinis, while Adam Zampa took 2 for 20 from just four overs. 

A team with that much talent shouldn’t be missing the finals, and the Hurricanes, if they can’t get the job done on Tuesday against the Renegades will be viewing this game as a rather difficult one given the ability the men in green hold.  

The Hurricanes have been heavily reliant on Ben McDermott to kick start their batting throughout the season, with the tournament’s leading run-scorer currently having 513 runs recorded at 57 with a strike rate north of 150. D’Arcy Short has been the next best for the Hurricanes with 310 runs, but at a strike rate of only 103, he hasn’t struck fear into opposition bowlers. 

The Hurricanes will need McDermott to go big here, but against a strong bowling attack and with so much weaponary hitting back at them, the Stars should close out the season with a victory. 


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