Welcome to the Big Bash League Grand Final preview. We are left with the Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes to battle it out for the BBL 3 Title after the Stars and Sixers failed to capitalise on home ground advantages in the Semi Finals. The Perth Scorchers hosts its third consecutive Big Bash Final and will be looking to win its first title, while the Hurricanes will make its Grand Final debut on Friday night.
The Hobart Hurricanes went into the Semi Final against the undefeated Stars as complete underdogs, but came away with the result it desired with relative ease. The biggest topic to come out of the game was whether the finals structure needs to be revamped to give the top 2 seeded sides a second chance and ultimately a greater advantage. At the end of the day, Hobart completely outplayed its highly rated opposition on the night and now deserves its position in the Final based on this year’s format. The result has created question marks as to whether the big name Stars players have the mental strength to step up when the pressure is on.
The Perth Scorchers had a much more stressful time in qualifying for the Final and not necessarily due to competitive opposition. Craig Simmons smashed his second century of the competition which set up a total of 193 that was always going to have the Sixers stretched with a depleted squad. Then came the real obstacle, the rain. As the Sixers finished higher on the table, an abandoned match meant the home side automatically went through to the final, despite the dominance of Perth with the bat. The rain stopped only minutes before the Scorchers 10.36pm deadline which meant a new target and over limit needed to be calculated via the Duckworth/Lewis method. It produced a generous Sixers target of 54 runs off the minimum 5 overs to constitute a result. Thankfully, Perth was able to restrict Sydney to 48 and deservedly go on to host the Final.
Perth Scorchers ($1.75) vs Hobart Hurricanes ($2.08)
Friday 07/02/2014, at the WACA, 4.45pm (local)
Perth Scorchers 7/153 (S.Marsh 40, M.Marsh 33, Turner 32no, Katich 22) defeated Hobart Hurricanes 7/147 (Shah 32, Dunk 28, Malik 26, Birt 22, Coulter-Nile 3/15, Arafat 2/27) by 6 runs at the WACA
We don’t have the encounter we expected for the Grand Final, but we do have an evenly matched contest to look forward to between Perth and Hobart. The January 7th match between these two sides was interesting to say the least. Hobart were accused of choking after needing 21 off 17 balls with 7 wickets in hand and two set international batsmen in Owais Shah and Shoaib Malik. Yasir Arafat and Nathan Coulter-Niles produced 3 brilliant death overs between them to lead Perth to victory. Owais Shah, Shoaib Malik & Yasir Arafat won’t take part in the final, but it will be enthralling to see if those mental scares still linger with Hobart on the night.
The Perth Scorchers don’t have the greatest batting depth in the competition, but it always find a way to post competitive targets for its strong bowling line-up to defend. Craig Simmons has produced two tons and Simon Katich two 70+ scores, which have generally been the back bone of their victories at the top of the innings. From there the quality bowling attack of Coulter-Nile, Behrendorff, Hogg, Cummins and Thomas (as well as Arafat before injury) have more often than not delivered high standards. The question mark on the Scorchers is that if one of Simmons or Katich doesn’t bat a majority of overs, can they rely of the likes of Whiteman, Voges, Mitch Marsh or Turner to fill the void? If I were Hobart coach Damien Wright, I’d be focusing on attacking that opening partnership with my best strike bowlers. Shaun Marsh has been named in the squad and Perth officials remain optimistic that he’ll be fit to play. He would be a massive bonus for Perth.
The Hobart Hurricanes will gain an enormous amount of confidence from beating the undefeated Stars on their home deck with ease. It will also take confidence from the fact it didn’t rely on Player of the Tournament Ben Dunk making a sole contribution at the top of the order. The inclusion of captain George Bailey made an obvious difference both in the middle order and in the field. He is a quality operator who appears to have a calmness that spreads to his players. The decision to omit Xavier Doherty for the Semi Final originally raised some eyebrows, but Cameron Boyce helped change the momentum Hobart’s way with a brilliant spell of 3/11 from his 3 overs. He is now the leading spin bowler in the competition with 10 wickets at an average of 10.10 from his 5 games. Leading wicket taker Ben Laughlin (quad) and Pakistani international Shoaib Malik (ODI duties) are massive outs for the Hurricanes. Xavier Doherty will take the position of one, while Blizzard, Gulbis and Mennie will fight it out for the final position.
This is an extremely tight contest on paper and statistically. Perth’s line-up has been slightly more consistent throughout the competition, but Hobart has been a steadier unit in its last two outings. I still have concerns about the lengths the Hurricanes seamers are bowling, which should benefit the likes of Simmons, Voges, Marsh, Turner and Coulter-Nile. The losses of Laughlin & Malik are significant and have me leaning toward the Scorchers. It would be an amazing title win when you consider the ongoing squad casualties Perth have had to deal with throughout the season.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 10 runs/3 wickets
Player of the Final: Jason Behrendorff @ $21.00
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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