Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers
Monday, 28 December 19:10 EST
It’s the clash of two unbeaten sides when Sydney Thunder host the Adelaide Strikers at Spotless Stadium on Monday.
The Thunder have so far accounted for city-rivals the Sixers and pre-tournament favourites Melbourne Stars, successfully defending scores of 158 and 178 respectively. On each occasion their batting has relied heavily on an individual contribution such as captain Mike Hussey’s 80 against the Sixers and Usman Khawaja’s unbeaten ton against the Stars, while the bowling has been more of a collaborative effort with all of their bowlers chipping in with meaningful contributions, aside from last season’s leading wicket-taker Gurinder Sandhu who appears to have lost his radar.
A particularly promising sign for the Thunder was their ability to come from behind and win a tight game against the Stars when historically they have struggled to get over the line in close contests.
Against the odds the Strikers also find themselves with two wins from two thanks to victories over highly-fancied teams in the Stars and defending champions Perth Scorchers. Middle-order sensation Alex Ross has been the hero with the bat after match-winning knocks of 65 and 38 at a strike-rate in excess of 170. Similar to their opponents all the Adelaide bowlers have contributed at different stages, however the stand-out has been English leg-spinner Adil Rashid who over the course of the opening two games has averaged 12 whilst going at no more than a run a ball. The Strikers will also be looking to continue their impressive away record after winning their last five matches on the road.
The Spotless Stadium pitch appeared to play slightly better than last season in the Sydney Smash on opening night, however it still proved tough for batsmen to really accelerate with only one player managing a strike-rate higher than 150. A similar surface could suit the Strikers’ bowling attack which contains plenty of variety via the likes of Rashid, Ben Laughlin and Kane Richardson.
The home side are jollies for this clash at 1.82, with the visiting Strikers outsiders at 2.22, however on form the odds could easily be the other way around. The Strikers have so far beaten the two tournament favourites with relative ease and while the Thunder won their opening game against the Sixers comfortably they needed a freak last over effort from Jacques Kallis to hold off the Stars. The Thunder do have home advantage, however it is a ground at which they have only played at on a handful of occasions with a pitch that, as mentioned, could suit Adelaide’s bowling attack.
With the Strikers’ outstanding away record I see their chances as no worse than 50/50 and therefore am happy to back the visitors at 2.22 but with a tight clash expected, will look to lay off if they get shorter than 1.60.