There are set to be plenty of fireworks when the Adelaide Strikers do battle with the Sydney Sixers in the traditional New Year’s Eve clash at the Adelaide Oval.
The Strikers have endured a rough start to this season’s competition, dropping both of their opening games against the Brisbane Heat and Perth Scorchers. In both matches they won the toss and elected to field, before conceding sizeable totals that they could not manage to run down. Against the Scorchers they got off to a decent start, removing former Striker Michael Klinger in the first over, however things went downhill from there as Perth racked up 7/197 off their 20 overs, including 63 off the last five. Michael Neser experienced another uncomfortable evening, with his four overs costing 37, but the worst offender was overseas signing Chris Jordan who saw his four overs disappear for 48.
Adelaide then found themselves on the back foot early in the chase, reduced to 3/15 before a stoic 56 off 33 balls from captain Brad Hodge as well as some late-order hitting from Kane Richardson (45 off 28) added some respectability to the scorecard, however ultimately they fell 48 runs short. Following a couple of sluggish starts, Travis Head will be hoping he can recapture the sort of form that saw him blaze a match-winning century in the corresponding fixture last season.
However it is in the field where the Strikers really need to lift and they have suffered a further blow with Richardson out for 2-4 weeks due to back soreness. Left-arm orthodox spinner Tom Andrews has replaced Richardson, while explosive batsman Jono Dean has also been added to the 13-man squad in place of Kelvin Smith.
The Sixers enter the New Year’s Eve bout off the back of a highly-impressive win over the Scorchers at the SCG last Tuesday. Despite missing five players to international duty as well as openers Jason Roy and Daniel Hughes to injury, the Sixers brushed aside Perth by six wickets. Faced with the Scorchers’ powerful and deep batting line-up, spin played a key component with Johan Botha, Steve O’Keefe and Will Somerville combining for figures of 4/59 off ten overs, as Perth stumbled to 8/130 off their full allotment.
The only bowler to come in for any serious punishment was veteran Doug Bollinger who conceded 20 off his two overs, although he did pick up the key wicket of Shaun Marsh. Makeshift opener Sam Billings (40 off 30 balls) anchored the Sixers’ chase, before man of the match Botha secured a comfortable victory with an unbeaten 30 from 19 balls.
Evergreen ‘keeper Brad Haddin will be hoping to spend a bit more time in the middle against the Strikers, having scored just 10 and 7 in his first two knocks of BBL06. Haddin will likely be moved down the order against Adelaide with openers Roy and Hughes fit and available for selection, although the Sixers will still be without their Australian representatives, including Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird.
The runs continue to flow at the Adelaide Oval with last season’s average first innings score of 6/168 comfortably exceeded by the Brisbane Heat (5/206) ten days ago, with the Strikers finishing only ten runs short of overhauling the massive target. It’s also worth mentioning that since the start of last season the opening partnership has averaged a substantial 51.17 at Adelaide.
- The Strikers have lost their last three matches.
- However the Strikers have won four of their past six games at the Adelaide Oval.
- The Sixers have won only two of their past six games away from home.
- However the Sixers have won three from five games against the Strikers at the Adelaide Oval.
Punters are finding this one tough to call with the Strikers considered slim favourites ahead of the visiting Sixers.
So far the Strikers’ campaign has been plagued by wasteful bowling, which has made things increasingly tough on their batting unit. The loss of Richardson is a further setback, and while that should precipitate the return of wily seamer Ben Laughlin to the starting XI, I’m not convinced it’s enough to alleviate the pressure on their entire attack which has looked out of sorts across the board. Provided they win a third straight toss, the hosts would most likely welcome an opportunity to bat first, however their form in that department is tough to gauge given the run rate pressure they’ve endured.
Meanwhile the Sixers have been generally impressive, comfortably accounting for the Thunder and Scorchers, either side of a surprise loss to the Hobart Hurricanes. The Hurricanes seemed to catch the Magenta Men on the hop, especially with the bat, however the Sixers’ bowlers hit back superbly against the highly-rated Scorchers and should go into this clash full of confidence.
However where I believe the Sixers have the clearest edge is when their enhanced batting line-up comes up against the erratic Strikers bowling attack. Buoyed by the return of Roy and Hughes and with the likes of Billings and captain Moises Henriques in good touch, I believe they possess more than enough muscle to put the Adelaide attack to the sword. As such I believe we have a case of wrong favourites here, so will be backing the Sixers to record their third win of the season.
BACK – Sydney Sixers at 2.05 or better for 1 unit.