Big Bash League 2016/17: Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers

Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers

Wednesday 18th January 7:40pm AEDT

The Sydney Thunder will be hoping to complete a remarkable comeback and catapult themselves into the top four with victory over the Adelaide Strikers at the Sydney Showground Stadium on Wednesday night.

Sydney Thunder

After dropping their first four games, the Thunder’s title defence seemed dead and buried, however they have subsequently gone on a run of three straight wins and a fourth here will give them every chance of sneaking into the semi-finals. Their top four hopes received a significant boost on Saturday when they not only defeated the Sydney Sixers, but absolutely trounced their cross-town rivals to give their net run rate a much-needed boost.

After the Sixers won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat, they got off to a decent enough start at 2/52 in the ninth over, however from there the Thunder took control on a slow surface, claiming 6/15 in the next five overs as the Magenta Men eventually staggered to 9/99 off their 20 overs.

Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed produced one of the spells of the tournament to finish with 4/14 off his four overs, while West Indian all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite chipped in with 3/21 off four. Faced with a meagre target, the Thunder batsmen did not find conditions anywhere near as difficult as their counterparts, racing to 54 without loss after five overs, before eventually completing a comfortable eight-wicket win with a whopping ten overs to spare.

Kurtis Patterson saw the chase through with an unbeaten 38 off 26 balls, while opening partner James Vince continued his impressive form with a breezy 28 off 18 balls. Although their net run rate received a significant shot in the arm against the Sixers, the Thunder may need another comprehensive victory here if they are to creep into the top four.

Adelaide Strikers

The Strikers became the first side to be officially eliminated from BBL06 when they went down to the Melbourne Renegades on Monday night by six runs in a tight affair. The match summed up Adelaide’s season in that they got themselves to a match-winning position after an excellent powerplay, only to fall away in the middle overs and ultimately go down by a small margin.

However early on it looked as if the margin would be anything but small as the Renegades bolted to 2/120 after 13 overs and seemed set to put on another total in excess of 200. But some outstanding death bowling from Ben Laughlin (2/15 off four overs) and Kieron Pollard (3/30 off three overs) helped the Strikers take 5/22 off the final four overs to restrict the Renegades to 9/171.

As has been the case so often this season, Adelaide’s reply got off to an ideal start via an opening stand of 53 between Tim Ludeman (29 off 22 balls) and Ben Dunk (32 off 25), however the dismissal of Ludeman from the last ball of the powerplay turned the tide with only 48 taken from the next eight overs.

With the Strikers needing 54 off the last four overs to keep their season alive, the explosive Jono Dean (21 off 9) gave Adelaide some hope before they ultimately fell six runs short to round off a disappointing campaign in which they have claimed just the two victories.

Sydney Showground Stadium

All three matches at the Sydney Showground Stadium this season have been won by the side batting second with all first innings totals landing between 157 and 166. At home this season, Thunder spinners Fawad Ahmed and Chris Green has combined for an average of 20.38 at an economy rate of just 7.09.

Key Stats

  • The Thunder have won only one of their past five matches at the Sydney Showground Stadium.
  • However the Thunder have won five of their past seven matches when batting second.
  • The Strikers have lost six of their past eight matches.
  • The Strikers have lost three of their past four when batting second.
  • Ben Dunk has top-scored for the Strikers in five out of seven matches this season.

The Verdict

Back at home and with more to play for, the Thunder have been installed as favourites to keep their season alive and consign the Strikers to their first ever wooden spoon.

The turnaround for the Thunder has been quite remarkable, especially as it has come in the midst of so much player turnover with two changes to their overseas roster compounded by the loss of star quick Pat Cummins to the Australian ODI squad. Their slow bowling duo of Fawad and Green have more than made up for the loss of Cummins, using some helpful conditions in the last couple of games to take some key scalps as well as keep the runs down.

A revitalised top order has benefited from the addition of Vince who has created plenty of spark and taken the pressure off youngster Patterson who, as a result, has scored far more freely. Having gathered plenty of momentum, there’s a lot to like about the Thunder here, and while they may get themselves into trouble if they try to manufacture another substantial win, their price is certainly of interest.

The Strikers, meanwhile, are left to rue what might have been with the majority of their losses coming in tight games which realistically could have gone either way. Nevertheless their batting in particular has been underwhelming with only five individual half-centuries in seven games and four of those came from the experienced pair of Ben Dunk and Brad Hodge. A lack of finesse and adaptability in the middle-order has often been their undoing and one must have concerns about how they will fare in the middle overs against the Thunder’s in-form spinners.

Their bowling has featured some outstanding individual performances, however at the same time their depth has been stretched following the losses of Adil Rashid, Billy Stanlake, Kane Richardson and Chris Jordan. Up against a team needing to win it’s hard to make a case for the Strikers here and on current form I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them.

When we start to think about how this game might play out it seems clear that the Thunder will prefer to chase given their success batting second in recent times, as well as the fact that it presents the best opportunity to give their net run rate a hike. However even if the Strikers get the chance to send the Thunder in, their own record when chasing is far from complimentary, and with little to play for there is every chance they don’t bring the same resolve and commitment that has been evident in some of their tight losses this season.

The major danger for the Thunder seems to be if they choose to pay too much attention to bolstering that net run rate, but when your biggest concern is trying to win by too many, then you’re generally not in a bad place to start with. Coming off three straight wins and with the most unlikely of semi-final appearances a possibility I cannot ignore the Thunder here, so will be backing the home side to make it four on the trot.

While Adelaide’s season has been a disappointment, the performance of opener Ben Dunk has been anything but. Dunk has scored 299 runs at an average of 49.83 and strike-rate of 164.28 in BBL06, top-scoring five times from seven games, including his last three. Incredibly Dunk has only failed to reach 30 once this season so with that sort of consistency I’ll happily back him to top-score for the Strikers yet again here.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Sydney Thunder at 1.80 or bigger for 2 units

BACK – Ben Dunk Top Adelaide Strikers Batsman at 3.25 or bigger for 1 unit

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