Welcome to the Round 3 BBL05 preview. The three games conducted last round proved just how tight the competition is with a couple of highly fancied teams going down. Perth fielded a very strong side for its first match of BBL05, but the Adelaide Strikers were far too good and joined the Sydney Thunder as the only undefeated sides. The Sydney Sixers also joined those teams on two wins with an impressive performance away against the Renegades, but have played one extra match. After this round we will be down to just the one undefeated team as the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers take each other on for the opportunity to jump one game clear. There have been plenty of outsiders getting up, so ensure you check all variables as close to the start of the games before committing to a bet.
Hobart Hurricanes head to head @ $1.74
PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.57) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($2.42)
AT THE WACA, SATURDAY 26/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Heat 7/134 (Reardon 52no, Hogg 2/14, Behrendorff 2/28) lost to Scorchers 2/137 (Carberry 77no, Voges 35no) at 8 wickets at the WACA.
The Perth Scorchers would have been bitterly disappointed to not take full advantage of having all of its Australian players available against the Strikers. The reigning title holder has a reputation of starting the BBL seasons slowly, but everyone would have expected the batting to perform better than it did. Voges and Shaun Marsh both got into the 40s, but weren’t as dominant as they could have been with there eye in. Carberry, Mitch Marsh and Willey made 8 runs between them, which ultimately restricted Perth to a below par 6/151. The bowling was actually pretty solid, but they didn’t have enough runs to play with. Coulter-Nile has injured a shoulder and won’t play, but Behrendorff has been named. Voges and the Marsh brothers have Test duties and are all unavailable, despite Shaun Marsh being dropped from the Australian side.
The Brisbane Heat bowling crisis isn’t showing any signs of improving. They could only take three wickets against the Hurricanes which resulted in a difficult score of 184. Batsmen are spending long periods at the crease against Brisbane, which needs to be avoided in any form of cricket. Tim Paine batted the entire innings and never really looked like being dismissed. Daniel Vettori and Chris Lynn have limited options at their disposal. There just doesn’t seem to be a quick fix.
Despite losing its Test guns, I fully expect the Scorchers to bounce back against the struggling Heat at home.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 30 runs/7 wickets
SYDNEY SIXERS ($1.85) VS MELBOURNE STARS ($1.95)
AT THE SCG, SUNDAY 27/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sixers 6/150 (Lumb 80, Silk 37no, Boland 2/19, Hastings 2/37) tied with Stars 4/150 (Pietersen 54, Dwarshuis 2/31) at the MCG (Stars won the one over eliminator).
The Sydney Sixers have looked a far more settled outfit since its opening loss to the Thunder. The Sixers sit on top of the BBL05 table after two rounds, but have played at least an extra game to every other side. The inclusion of Moises Henriques in the middle order has created far more depth and lessens the pressure on the top three to perform. His 101 run partnership with Lumb changed the momentum of the game, something I doubt the Sixers could have achieved without Henriques. His seamers are also valuable in the middle overs, as displayed on Wednesday night.
The Melbourne Stars really shouldn’t be sitting second last on the table without a win. After Usman Khawaja hit the Star’s bowlers to all corners of the ground to amass a stylish century, Kevin Pietersen went about replicating that to be 76 not out, with his side needing just 15 runs from 11 balls. Clint McKay then unexpectedly took his wicket, which completely turned the game upside down. The Stars still should have won the game from that position, but James Faulkner couldn’t live up to his reputation of finishing games off. The Stars are far better than its 0-2 and will play produce results sooner rather than later. Pietersen has flown home to England to be by the side of his wife for the birth of their second child, which isn’t ideal timing for the Stars.
The Sixers have improved significantly over its last two games, although the Stars squad is too good to keep losing and have enough depth to cover KP. The Stars look value at $1.95.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 20 runs/5 wickets
SYDNEY THUNDER ($1.80) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($2.00)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, MONDAY 28/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Strikers 5/119 from 10 overs (Ross 30no, Tremain 2/32), Thunder 0/18 from one over, match abandoned.
The Sydney Thunder seem like a whole new team. They now play an exciting brand of cricket, have a new home base, are now relevant and most importantly are winning games. The Thunder were however extremely lucky to get the points against the Stars, after Pietersen and Faulkner looked to have done enough for the win. Usman Khawaja’s hundred was obviously the key feature of the match, but Jacques Kallis’ final over death bowling was nearly as important. Khawaja will now leave the Thunder to re-join the Test Squad and after witnessing just how well he is seeing the ball, don’t expect to see him in the bright green any time soon.
The Adelaide Strikers keep surprising everyone, but is their form really that unexpected after what was produced last season? The Strikers yet again go into a match as the underdog despite knocking off the two pre-tournament favourites to start the season. There is no stand out category that the Strikers have dominated, they just possess a very even and balanced team that has so far possessed many contributors. A win against the Thunder is sure to start generating noise for this quiet achiever.
I’m finding this match extremely difficult to split. The Strikers form is difficult to ignore, but the Thunder have been just as impressive. The only reason I’m leaning slightly in the favour of the Thunder is because they possess more match winners. This isn’t a match I’m keen to place a bet on.
Prediction: Sydney Thunder to win by 1-5 runs/2 wickets
BRISBANE HEAT ($2.08) VS HOBART HURRICANES ($1.74)
AT THE GABBA, TUESDAY 29/12, 19:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hurricanes 3/184 (Paine 87no, Sangakkara 43, Bailey 40) defeated Heat 8/164 (Floros 42, Reardon 41, Rainbird 3/37, Christian 2/22) by 20 runs at Blundstone Arena.
Much has been discussed about the Brisbane Heat’s poor bowling performances and while I could easily add more to the topic, there are other areas that require attention. The Heat’s batting has held up to date, but there was a strange occurrence against the Hurricanes. Arguably the Heat’s three most dangerous batsmen in Chris Lynn, Nathan Reardon and Ben Cutting batted No.5, 6 and 7 respectively, despite chasing a large total of 184. Jason Floros did well with 42 from 23 balls at No.3, but you must get your best players to the crease as soon as possible in that situation. Ben Cutting is constantly wasted in the mid to lower order and if there were to be experimentation, wouldn’t it be promoting him? Even if the bowlers don’t perform, you must at the very least give yourself the best chance with bat in hand.
It isn’t very often that a team finds itself coming up against a particular opposition consecutively during a home and away format, but this is the position that Hobart finds itself in against Brisbane. As expected, the Hobart top order responded from its capitulation against the Sixers with a very promising performance, led by Tim Paine’s unbeaten 87. Kumar Sangakkara and George Bailey also looked in ominous touch and would have been frustrated to have gone out when they did. The bowling effort was far more consistent as well, as Tait, Rainbird, Rose and Christian produced important spells.
Based on the very recent encounter between the two, my opinions have barely changed despite a venue swap. The odds are near identical and I expect a very similar result.
Prediction: Hobart Hurricanes to win by 25 runs/7 wickets