Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Stars
Saturday January 16, 9:15pm
Second spot and a home final is on the line when the Perth Scorchers host the Melbourne Stars at the WACA on Saturday night.
Having already qualified for their fifth straight finals series the Scorchers will be looking to secure their fourth home semi-final in five years by overcoming the Stars at “The Furnace”. This season Perth have dropped just two games – both against league leaders Adelaide Strikers – although in their last match they only just snuck home by one run against the Hobart Hurricanes. Playing in only his third match this year, English import Michael Carberry lead the way against the Hurricanes with a blistering 62 off 35 balls. Perth’s highly regarded bowling attack didn’t have one of their better days against Hobart, however Carberry’s countryman David Willey enjoyed a return to form, claiming 1-23 off his four overs after conceding runs at an economy rate of 11.50 across the previous two games. The Scorchers will need Willey to step up again with spearhead Jason Behrendorff ruled out with back soreness.
The Stars have also never failed to finish inside the top four, however they have only had the benefit of hosting a semi-final once and have never progressed to the final. For them to leap-frog the Scorchers into second spot they will need to a record a comprehensive victory with a similar margin to which they lost against the Brisbane Heat last Thursday. The Heat bludgeoned an undermanned Melbourne bowling attack, compiling 7/188 with Daniel Worrall and Ben Hilfenhaus coming in for particular punishment. In reply the Stars slumped to 5-23 on their way to a 56-run defeat, with their entire top-order falling to Brisbane spinner Samuel Badree. One bright spot for the Stars was the form of all-rounder Evan Gulbis who blasted 61 off 52 balls and conceded less than seven runs an over with the ball.
The Scorchers have made short work of their last two opponents at the WACA, restricting the Sixers and Heat to 8/112 and 7/117 respectively, before overhauling both targets with ease. The side batting second has won all three games in Perth this season and with both teams having a preference for chasing, rather setting a total, expect the winners of the toss to elect to field.
The Scorchers are 1.73 favourites to claim their third consecutive home win with the Stars 2.34 to bounce back from their loss to the Heat. With Perth missing their best bowler in Behrendorff I can’t be backing them at such a short price, however I also don’t wish to oppose the Scorchers at the WACA and with the Stars coming off an absolute beating at the hands of Brisbane.
With the Stars bowling taking a battering against the Heat and the hosts missing not just Behrendorff but also Joel Paris to Australian duty, I fancy we could see more runs than usual between these two sides. Five out of Melbourne’s seven matches have seen between 10-13 sixes and while only two of Perth’s seven games have landed in that range, the majority have fallen just short. With two weaker bowling attacks on show I think we can expect to see the ball clear the ropes slightly more often than usual which is why I’ll be looking to back 10-13 sixes at 2.50 or better.