Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers
Friday January 8, 7:40pm
The Brisbane Heat will be hoping to make it two wins on the trot when they host competition heavyweights the Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba on Friday night.
Brisbane finally broke through for their first win of the season in their fifth and most recent encounter against the Sydney Thunder last Sunday, thanks largely to another superb innings from Chris Lynn who plundered 75 off 32 balls to help the Heat chase down the Thunder’s sizeable 5/186. However the platform for Lynn’s stunning knock was laid by openers Lendl Simmons and Jimmy Peirson who put on 72 for the first wicket in a welcome return to form after their opening partnership averaged just 15 in the four prior games. The bowling remains a significant concern for the Heat, in particular their death-bowling as they have conceded runs at an average of 12.51 an over in the final five overs this Big Bash season. With few untried options the Heat could do worse than give an opportunity to young prospect Jack Wildermuth who was the top wicket-taker for the Cricket Australia XI in this year’s Matador Cup.
The Strikers are riding high with four wins from five, most recently defeating defending champions Perth Scorchers for the second time this season. Adelaide’s success has been built on a powerful batting unit, headlined by youngster Travis Head who backed up his incredible century against the Sydney Sixers with another match-winning contribution of 51 off only 31 balls against the Scorchers. Star recruit Mahela Jayawardene also found some touch against Perth, notching his first half-century of the tournament after being promoted to the top of the order. The Strikers’ bowling attack has exhibited plenty of guile and variety throughout the competition, however they will have to do without Kane Richardson who has been called-up to the Australian ODI squad. All-rounder Michael Neser shapes as the most likely replacement and his inclusion will bolster an already imposing batting line-up.
In this year’s competition the Gabba has produced first innings scores of 5/180, 4/194 and 5/186, two of which were chased down. Furthermore only four out of 33 top order batsmen have been dismissed in single figures so it has certainly proved to be an incredibly tough venue for bowlers, particularly those from the home side.
With only one loss it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Strikers are favourites at 1.72 against a Heat side with only one win who are 2.36 to claim their first victory at the Gabba this season. The Adelaide price is just about backable provided they bat first, however we don’t want to be with their bowling attack sans Richardson against Lynn and the Heat’s rejuvenated opening pair.
In the preview for Adelaide’s first encounter with the Scorchers I mentioned how the Strikers first wicket tends to perish in the same manner – caught. Last season caught was the first method of dismissal on eight out of nine occasions for the Strikers while in all five games this season the opening partnership has been broken with a caught dismissal. Moreover the Heat have claimed the opposition’s first wicket via a caught dismissal in three games out of five this season so look for that trend to continue at a price of around 1.45.