Brisbane Heat will be hoping to make it three from three when they entertain the Hobart Hurricanes at the Gabba on Friday night.
The Heat made it two wins from as many matches in dramatic circumstances on Wednesday night, coming back from the dead to defeat the Sydney Thunder by three wickets at the Sydney Showground Stadium. Bowling first Brisbane looked set to restrict the Thunder to a relatively meagre total before some bad habits crept back in at the death, with leg-spinner Mitch Swepson conceding 27 off the final over to allow the Thunder to reach 7/157.
Earlier Samuel Badree (2/20 off four overs) and Mark Steketee (1/18 off four overs) continued their excellent form, while Ben Cutting (1/24 off four overs) bounced back from an expensive display in the Heat’s opening fixture against the Adelaide Strikers. In reply, Brisbane slumped to 3/19, then looked gone for all money at 6/63 with the run rate required up over 10.
However up stepped the irrepressible Chris Lynn with an unbeaten 85 off just 48 balls to help Brisbane run down 65 off the last five overs and secure a breathtaking win. Lynn received crucial support down the order from Jack Wildermuth (29 off 20) and Steketee (12 not out off 10) as the Heat managed to get over the line despite the Thunder trading as low as 1.03.
Although he showed marked improvement with the ball, the hosts will be concerned about Cutting’s output with the bat with another failure on Wednesday making it 18 BBL innings since he last passed 30.
The Hurricanes came crashing back down to earth on Boxing Day when they were soundly beaten by the Melbourne Stars at home. After knocking over the Sydney Sixers in their opening match, Hobart looked set to cause a second boilover against the highly-fancied Stars when they amassed a considerable 4/188 off their 20 overs. Captain Tim Paine continued his stellar form with a stunning 91 off 61 balls, combining in a 145-run partnership with George Bailey who smashed an unbeaten 74 off just 46 deliveries.
However unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the Stars made short work of the target, running it down with seven wickets in hand and 14 balls to spare. The volatile Shaun Tait exhibited the darker side of his capabilities, conceding a whopping 56 off his four overs, while fellow seamer Hamish Kingston saw his three overs disappear for 37.
The only bowler to exert any control was left-arm orthodox spinner Clive Rose who gave up only 17 from his three overs. Top order batsman Dom Michael has paid the price for his run of outs, replaced in the squad by Ben McDermott, while fringe seamer Sam Rainbird has been swapped out for all-rounder Simon Milenko who could potentially provide the Hobart attack with an additional option. The Hurricanes will be hoping to continue their strong record against the Heat, having won five of the past six clashes between these sides.
The average first innings score at the Gabba last season was a gargantuan 5/184, with no totals under 175. However, incredibly the side batting second still won three out of four matches. Heat lynchpin Chris Lynn enjoyed his time at home in BBL05, scoring 245 runs at the Gabba at an average of 61.25 and strike-rate of 191.41.
- The Heat have won their last four matches.
- However the Heat have won only two of their past seven matches at the Gabba.
- The Hurricanes have won six of nine matches against the Heat, including five of the past six.
- Since the start of last season, the Hurricanes have averaged a score of 6/167 when batting first.
The hosts have been backed to remain unbeaten, with the market shying away from the Hurricanes after that loss to the Stars.
Although Brisbane claimed both of their opening fixtures, it’s fair to say they had a decent slice of luck in each match with the sides they conquered trading at 1.09 and 1.03, so the Heat came from well behind the eight-ball in both games to claim victory. Their batting line-up is as imposing as any in the competition, however still remains overly reliant on the prowess of Lynn with other dangerous strikers such as Cutting having flattered to deceive.
Although improved, their bowling attack is undoubtedly the weakest in the tournament and there can only be so many times that their batsmen – or more specifically Lynn – can bail them out.
The Hurricanes themselves are far from flawless and as a unit they probably have the most downside of any team in BBL06 as exhibited by their erratic display in the field against the Stars. However they also boast plenty of upside, impressing with the bat in both matches this season and their all-round display against the Sixers belied their reputation as tournament easy-beats. While they have struggled for consistency, Hobart have shown that they can fire with the bat with their total against the Stars their fourth score above 180 batting first from their last eight. This matches up well with the Heat’s listless bowling attack, and while their own bowling unit could potentially struggle against Lynn and co, they could just as easily turn in the sort of disciplined performance we saw against the Sixers.
Historically the Hurricanes have the wood on the Heat, winning six of nine matches against Brisbane, including five of the past six, and with the Heat requiring more than a small piece of good fortune in both their games in BBL06 I believe the market has badly overrated them here. Therefore I’m happy to have a sizeable wager on the visitors to serve up a dose of reality to the Heat on their home patch.
BACK – Hobart Hurricanes at 2.30 or bigger for 3 units.