As we enter the final five games of the home and away rounds, the top four still has positions to be finalised which leaves at least six franchises alive. The Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers have already secured home semi-finals, but it is tight below those two. The fight for third and fourth is down to Hobart, the Renegades, the Thunder and Brisbane and is unlikely to be determined until Saturday night. While the Sixers vs Stars game is a bit of a dead rubber, all other matches will have a say on final positioning.
PERTH SCORCHERS HEAD TO HEAD @ $1.87 AGAINST ADELAIDE STRIKERS
SIXERS ($1.57) VS STARS ($2.40)
AT THE SCG, TUESDAY 23/01, 19:40
The Sydney Sixers are arguably the form team in the competition after three consecutive and dominant victories, but it has all been left far too late. There is no doubt that the change of personal has turned the Sixers’ fortunes, led by the introduction of Nathan Lyon. His 2/17 off four overs set the tone and it is difficult to understand why he isn’t in the picture for short format Australian duties. As you expect when bowling a side out for 73, there are many good individual efforts, but Sean Abbott’s 4/11 was next level as he troubled the Heat batsmen with seam and bounce.
Another inconsistent batting performance from the Stars produced a familiar below par total that was always going to be difficult to defend. Handscomb and Gotch looked dangerous at times, but were dismissed at frustrating times when the Stars desperately needed in batsmen at the crease. Excluding Liam Bowe who took 2/30, the Stars bowlers rarely looked threatening and lacked enthusiasm at the crease. The list needs freshening as the burden of not meeting expectations over the years looks to have caught up with the senior players.
These two sides are trending in completely different directions. The Sixers should win in a canter.
SYDNEY SIXERS TO WIN BY 25-30 RUNS/7 WICKETS
THUNDER ($1.85) VS RENEGADES ($1.95)
AT MANUKA OVAL, CANBERRA, WEDNESDAY 24/01, 19:40
The Sydney Thunder is peaking at the right time of the year and has a little opportunity to steal a top four position off the Renegades or Hurricanes. It needs to win and preferably with conviction, as well as rely on other results to go its way. A solid, all-round bowling performance restricted the Stars to a pleasing 6/147, before three scores of 40+ from Khawaja, Vince and Watson ensured the chase was stress free. It is an extremely dangerous top three, one that can singlehandedly win a game at any time, which will make the top teams nervous should the Thunder squeeze a semi-final berth.
The Melbourne Renegades still have two games remaining and only need one more win to qualify for the finals, but it is a much different team to what began this campaign. The Renegades structure has suffered from the loss of key players and it no longer looks the title threat of earlier in the tournament. The Gades looked on track for restricting Adelaide to a gettable total, before Colin Ingram turned the game on its head with 68 from 36 balls. The men in red were behind the eight ball early in the chase and never looked like bringing it back. The pressure is firmly on the Renegades.
I like the way the Thunder are going about it currently. The Gades will lose White again and will be stretched further batting wise.
SYDNEY THUNDER TO WIN BY 5-10 RUNS/4 WICKETS
SCORCHERS ($1.87) VS STRIKERS ($1.93)
AT THE WACA, THURSDAY 25/01, 19:40
Year in, year out this side churns out the wins and it has secured another home semi-final for BBL07. While Simon Milenko threatened to tear the game away with 66 from 37 balls, a professional batting performance saw Perth pass the score with four balls to spare. Cameron Bancroft anchored the innings with 54 from 36 balls, while a 27 ball half century from the extremely talented Ashton Turner finished the game off and provided the Scorchers a valuable seventh win. There are no surprises in seeing Perth at $3.30 to go back to back.
Like the Scorchers, the Strikers have also managed to lock in a home semi-final and will be looking forward to playing in front of a packed Adelaide Oval again. It also gets the opportunity to make amends against Perth before finals, after getting rolled for 112 on January 13th. Adelaide comfortably dealt with the Renegades at Etihad Stadium on Monday night in a bit of a flat encounter, but the match was brought to life by one of the most spectacular catches you’ll see. Diving towards the boundary rope, Ben Laughlin had to catch the ball and throw it backwards 30 metres to Jake Weatherald to complete the wicket of Dwayne Bravo. It was a truly amazing piece of cricket. Travis Head will return to the ODI squad after a quality half century.
The Scorchers comfortably dealt with Adelaide less than two weeks ago at Alice Springs and it is difficult not backing them at home. Happy to take on those $1.87 odds.
PERTH SCORCHERS TO WIN BY 20-25 RUNS/5 WICKETS