After the longest home and away campaign in the competitions history, the Big Bash Finals have finally arrived and we have two interesting contests ahead of us. Perth and Adelaide have been the two best performed sides of the season to date, but knock out cricket is a different ball game especially with so many personnel changes due to the ODI and T20I changeover. There are some quality cricketers returning for the semi-finals, but the losses are just as talented, if not more, which is a shame for the Big Bash as a whole. There will still be plenty of entertainment for the crowds and TV audiences as the Scorchers look to go back to back, while Adelaide, Hobart and the Renegades fight for their first silverware.
PERTH SCORCHERS HEAD TO HEAD @ $1.57 AGAINST HOBART HURRICANES
SCORCHERS ($1.57) VS HURRICANES ($2.35)
AT OPTUS STADIUM, PERTH, THURSDAY 01/02, 19:40
The Perth Scorchers ended the BBL07 home and away season with eight victories, a game clear on top of the table and is a hot favourite to go back to back. Its depth has again proven to be a key aspect to the success of the franchise, with the squad often depleted by injury and national duty. Finally the tables have turned and the Scorchers will be boosted by the inclusion of two world class cricketers in Shaun and Mitch Marsh. They make a sometimes questionable top order all of a sudden look incredibly strong, while Mitch’s seamers add further depth to the bowling attack. Ashton Agar is a vital exclusion with both bat and ball, but the inclusions more than balance out his loss.
The Hobart Hurricanes certainly haven’t entered the finals campaign in the most convincing form, having lost to the bottom of the ladder Melbourne Stars last start. Despite a golden duck to D’Arcy Short, Hobart conjured a respectable 7/185 to be in the box seat at the innings break. Although another unacceptably leaky spell from Tymal Mills changed the course of the match, as he was hit for 56 runs from his four overs. Mills has undeniably been the flop of BBL07 and he has been dropped for this do or die encounter, but the problems only get worse for the Hurricanes. Cricket Australia has confirmed that D’Arcy Short will be unavailable, with the competition record run scorer required for T20I duty. Tim Paine is a handy inclusion, but he doesn’t quite bring the same game breaking stroke play.
The team changes have shifted this game firmly in Perth’s favour. It would be one of the great underdog performances for Hobart to pull this off. Short odds, but the Scorchers are safe money with limited betting options.
PERTH SCORCHERS TO WIN BY 30+ RUNS/7 WICKETS
STRIKERS ($2.05) VS RENEGADES ($1.80)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, FRIDAY 02/02, 19:40
The Adelaide Strikers have been a consistent performer throughout BBL07 on the field, but the biggest test to date comes on Friday night when taking on the Renegades without its three best locals in Alex Carey, Travis Head and Billy Stanlake. While Colin Ingram and Rashid Khan were the chief destroyers the last time these two meet, the batting depth has taken a serious hit with the exclusions. The likes of Dean, Wells and Lehmann will have to take greater responsibility after lean seasons to date, but the bowling attack still looks strong enough. Can you completely ignore the relevance of an outstanding home and away season on the back of three key exclusions?
A sensational finish to the season with two vital away wins has seen the Renegades finish third with a respectable 6-4 record. A newly and accidently found opening partnership of Marcus Harris and Matt Short has worked wonders, as they combined for a partnership of 75 against Brisbane to get the ball rolling. Tom Cooper continued his underrated season with 65 from 36 balls to propel his side to 3/187 after 20 vers. The early wickets of Lynn and McCullum left the Heat in a heap at 3/29 and the Renegades bowlers ensured they never truly recovered. The loss of inform quick Kane Richardson is significant, but Cameron White returns to lead the Gades in its first finals appearance in five years.
One of these teams will make a debut Grand Final appearance, but there are so many variables here. Adelaide has key outs and the Gades travel brilliantly, but I just feel the Strikers will produce better than the change in odds suggest. Flip of the coin, I’m happy to sit back and watch.
MELBOURNE RENEGADES TO WIN BY 1-3 RUNS/3 WICKETS