Big Bash League 2016/17: Semi Final 1, Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Stars

Perth Scorchers V Melbourne Stars

Tuesday 24th January 740pm AEDT

The first semi-final of BBL06 will see minor premiers Perth Scorchers host the Melbourne Stars at the WACA on Tuesday.

Perth Scorchers

The Scorchers secured top spot and a home semi thanks to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over the Hobart Hurricaneson Saturday. After winning the toss and electing to field, Perth took control early with a couple of strikes to rejuvenated quick Mitchell Johnson (2/15 off 4 overs) reducing Hobart to 2/40 after seven overs.

Needing a big win to catapult themselves into semi-final contention, the Hurricanes continued to attack but were thwarted by the Scorchers’ tight bowling as they limped to 6/134 from their 20 overs. After Johnson did all the initial damage, Englishman Tim Bresnan closed out the innings expertly, finishing with 2/20 off his four overs.

After losing Sam Whiteman (9 off 6 balls) in the second over, an 82-run stand between Michael Klinger (29 off 29 balls) and a revitalized Shaun Marsh (57 off 34 balls) put the Scorchers firmly on course, before some late hitting from captain Adam Voges (20 off 8 balls) and all-rounder Ashton Turner (16 off 7 balls) ensured that Perth got home with a lazy 37 balls to spare, lifting them to the summit of the ladder and a fifth home final in seven years.

Heading into the finals one slight concern for the Scorchers may be the form of canny paceman Andrew Tye who in his last two outings has failed to take a wicket and conceded runs at 9.25 runs an over.

Melbourne Stars

The Stars relinquished their own chance of a home final when they went down to the Sydney Sixers at the MCG, also on Saturday. Batting first, the Stars got off to a superb start, racing to 0/51 off five overs, before consolidating effectively to 1/128 with five overs to go. But from there they faded badly, losing 7/28 to record an underwhelming 8/156.

Rob Quiney did most of the damage in the powerplay with a highly-entertaining 35 off 19 balls, although it was his opening partner Luke Wright who top-scored for the second successive match with 62 off 47 balls. The first signs of a struggle came from Kevin Pietersen, who laboured towards the back end of his innings of 39 off 36 balls, with none of the subsequent batsmen managing to score more than 5.

Nevertheless when the Sixers slumped to 6/104 off 15 overs, requiring an improbable 53 off the last five, it looked as if the Stars would comfortably book a semi-final at the MCG but it was not to be with the Sydney side needing only four overs to crash their way to victory and leapfrog the Stars to third spot in the process.

The Stars have received a boost with all-rounder Marcus Stoinis released from the Australian ODI squad to play the semi-final, most likely unseating Sam Harper which will allow Seb Gotch to reclaim the wicket-keeping gloves.

WACA Ground

These two sides met at the WACA a couple of weeks ago and it resulted in a comprehensive win for the visitors, with the Stars running out victors by seven-wickets. The Scorchers’ first innings total of 7/134 was well under-par that day, highlighted by the fact it was the only first innings score under 170 at the WACA this season. Nonetheless, the WACA should hold no concerns for the Stars, having won three of their last four there.

Key Stats

  • The Scorchers have won four of their past seven matches at the WACA.
  • However the Scorchers have lost their last three matches against the Stars.
  • The Stars have won six of their past seven matches away from home.
  • The Stars have won three of their past four matches at the WACA.

The Verdict

Despite that strong recent record at the WACA, the Stars are clear underdogs with the Scorchers installed as healthy favourites to progress to their fifth BBL final.

The Scorchers may have finished top of the table but they are yet to really put their stamp on the competition, with their only win against a fellow top four side coming against a severely undermanned Brisbane Heat outfit. There are a couple of promising signs with their batting, namely the restoration of captain Voges to control the middle overs as well as the return to form of Shaun Marsh, who had looked badly out of touch for the majority of the tournament.

It’s hard to find a more adaptable side than the Scorchers, with a host of all-rounders such as Ashton Turner, Ashton Agar and Hilton Cartwright at their disposal, however coach Justin Langer does tend to overdo the changes to the batting order, as highlighted by a number of questionable promotions for ‘keeper-batsman Whiteman.

Their bowling has been hard to falter with Johnson in particular finding his groove, however some uncharacteristic displays from Tye of late leave them vulnerable at the death. Having lost their last three matches against the Stars, I can’t possibly make them value here at such short odds.

The Stars, meanwhile, have been frustratingly inconsistent, which likely results from an over-reliance on a small portion of their squad. The top three of Quiney, Wright and Pietersen have scored 58% of the Stars’ runs this season, with a further 14% coming from players unavailable due to national duties. Similarly the pace bowling duo of Scott Boland and Ben Hilfenhaus have claimed 57% of the Stars’ wickets in BBL06, with an additional 15% taken by those international absentees.

The Stars also don’t have the best record against top four opponents, winning just one of three although the solitary victory did come against the Scorchers. This really begs the question as to whether we can trust the Stars’ big guns to fire, but I believe at this price it is worth taking the risk that they will at least get themselves firmly in the contest.

The Stars tend to flourish away from the MCG, only losing one of their past seven away games, and they seem to match up particularly well against the Scorchers, winning their last three against Perth and three of their past four at the WACA.

With that in mind I’m going to begin by backing the visitors at their attractive starting price, as we’re essentially getting with the Stars top three batsmen or powerplay bowlers, both of whom have consistently delivered throughout the competition.

However given that the Scorchers boast clearly superior depth with both bat and ball, while the Stars’ more peripheral squad members are yet to produce the good this season, I’ll be looking to trade out and lock in some profit.

Betting Strategy

 BACK-TO-LAY – Melbourne Stars at 2.28 or bigger for 2 units (trade out at 1.65 or better).

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