Welcome to the Big Bash Semi Finals preview. We are down to four sides with the Melbourne Stars taking on the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG and the Sydney Sixers hosting the Perth Scorchers at the SCG for positions in the Final on Friday night. The Stars are overwhelming tournament favourites coming into the Semi Finals, currently paying $2.05 and will be looking to get to a Final for the first time after falling one step short in each of its first two seasons.
The four BBL Semi Finals to have been completed in previous seasons have provided interesting results. Raging home favourites Hobart and the Renegades lost in 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively, while the Perth Scorchers dealt with the Stars in consecutive Semi Finals at the WACA. Hosting home finals hasn’t quite delivered the advantages that the higher seeded teams would expect, creating calls for a new format to been drawn up to give the top 2 sides greater privileges. Whether you believe home ground advantages influence a result or not, the best side on the night generally get the points in T20 cricket.
The attendance of the Semi Finals are going to be interesting given the eight day break between matches. The gap has given International T20 representatives the chance to return to their franchises, but has the competition lost some much needed momentum in the process? The Melbourne and Sydney Cricket Grounds host their first ever BBL Final matches and there will be an expectation of record crowds. Let’s hope the sporting public still hold the same interest levels of a week ago.
SEMI FINAL 1: Melbourne Stars ($1.42) vs Hobart Hurricanes ($2.89)
Tuesday 04/02/2014, at the MCG, 7:45pm (local)
Hobart Hurricanes 9/131 (Birt 31, Dunk 30, Blizzard 28no, Stoinis 2/12, Hastings 2/15, Bland 2/37) lost to the Melbourne Stars 5/135 (Wright 52, Laughlin 2/28) by 5 wickets at the MCG.
If a Semi Final wasn’t enough to get the competitive juices flowing, Tim Paine brought some added heat into this contest by accusing the Melbourne Stars of being salary cap cheats. While Paine quickly retracted his words when Stars president Eddie McGuire sternly threatened legal action, it has created extra spice to the encounter.
The Melbourne Stars have the most to lose out of this contest, with an undefeated season to date raising expectations on top of a home final. The side has produced a faultless tournament and its net run rate of +2.189 tells a story of dominance. The inclusion list for this match doesn’t make it any easier to tip against the Stars. White, Wright, Maxwell, Malinga, Wade, Muirhead and McKay coming into the XI is scary reading for the Hurricanes, especially after the Stars beat Perth comfortably with a second string side.
The biggest chance for the Hobart Hurricanes to win is relying on Player of the Tournament Ben Dunk to produce another match winning performance. He has produced scores of 67, 96 and 87 in Hobart’s three victories, arguably lifting his side to a finals berth on his own bat. Dunk has scored 181 more runs than any other player at the Hurricanes and will desperately require support should he finally fail. The inclusion of T20 Australian captain George Bailey is a bonus. The pace attack of Laughlin, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger will be vital to restricting the international standard batting line-up of the Stars, with length deliveries needing to be minimalised to limit the chances of big hitters getting under balls.
How can you possibly back against that line-up of the Stars? If the Hurricanes are to win, they needs to bat first and set a competitive total. It may be trivial, but if there has been a Melbourne Stars vulnerability, it is chasing.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 35 runs/6 wickets.
SEMI FINAL 2: Sydney Sixers ($1.84) vs Perth Scorchers ($1.97)
Wednesday 05/02/2014, at the SCG, 7:45pm (local)
Perth Scorchers 5/153 (Katich 71, Whiteman 53, Lee 4/28) defeated Sydney Sixers 9/153 (S.Smith 65, Silk 23, Arafat 4/24, Behrendorff 3/21) in the one over tie eliminator 4 runs to 1 run (Arafat 2/1) at the SCG.
The Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers have had some memorable contests over the three seasons of the BBL, non-so more than its latest encounter on January 10th that went to a one-over eliminator. Yasir Arafat was the hero that day with 6 wickets (two in the eliminator) for the Perth Scorchers, but we won’t be seeing him on Wednesday night.
The Sydney Sixers have been installed early favourites with the home ground advantage, but it has lost some key personnel that will have a major effect on both the batting and bowling. The Australian Test tour to South Africa has hit the Sixers hard with Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Nathan Lyon all unavailable. Smith and Henriques have been the Sixers most influence batsmen throughout the competition and are almost impossible to replace. It leaves a gaping hole in the Sixers middle order, with the likes of North, Silk and Abbott required to make up the difference. Nathan Lyon has proven that there is daylight between he and any other Australian spinner during his four appearances, but that luxury is now gone. The performances of Lumb, Maddinson, Lee and Hazlewood will make or break Sydney.
The Scorchers just continue to find ways to get to the Semi Finals. With a batting order that looked fragile at the start of the season, the likes of Katich, Mitch Marsh, Simmons and Whiteman have done enough to get the Scorchers where they are now. Nathan Coulter-Nile will return to the line-up after three successful games with the Australian T20 side that garnered 7 wickets. He will partner the ever improving Jason Behrendorff and veteran Brad Hogg as the main strike bowlers, while the out of form Alfonso Thomas will need to fill the void of Yasir Arafat.
There are quite a few holes to fill for the Sixers. Arafat appears far more replaceable than Smith, Henriques and Lyon, despite his outstanding form. The Scorchers offer solid value.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 15 runs/4 wickets.
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.
All of our information is provided free. If you want to show your support, if you are wanting to join a new bookmaker, please use our banners. Thanks.