After back-to-back defeats the Hobart Hurricanes return to Bellerive Oval where they take on the Adelaide Strikers on Monday.
On Friday the Hurricanes were overwhelmed by the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba, which saw them drop out of the top four. Batting first, Hobart maintained a brisk run rate but lost wickets at regular intervals to eventually finish with 9/173 from their 20 overs. Powerful all-rounder Dan Christian top-scored with 33 off 23 balls, however threw his wicket away one ball after the dismissal of Jon Wells who did next best with 28 off 25.
Kumar Sangakkara continued his unhappy time in the BBL, perishing for 12 which means that he has now failed to score a half-century from 11 innings in this tournament. There was some hope for the Hurricanes when they picked up a wicket in just the second over, however it was swiftly quashed by a 109-run stand between Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn which allowed the Heat to saunter home with seven wickets in hand and 22 balls to spare.
English quick Stuart Broad bowled much better than his figures of 1/24 off three overs suggested, however medium-pacer Hamish Kingston suffered the ignominy of watching his sole over disappear for 22 and Shaun Tait produced another wayward spell to finish with 1/34 off three overs. Despite the convincing defeat, the Hurricanes have kept the faith with the majority of their squad with all-rounder Beau Webster’s inclusion ahead of Ben McDermott the only change.
After earlier defeats to the Heat and Scorchers, the Strikers finally got their campaign underway with an exciting 48-run win over the Sydney Sixers at the Adelaide Oval on New Year’s Eve. After being sent in, Adelaide got off to a blistering start, racing to 1/91 in the tenth over, however the dismissals of Ben Dunk (37 off 20 balls) and Brad Hodge (36 off 29 balls) triggered a collapse of 8/60 as they stumbled their way to a below-par 9/152. A third-ball duck to Jake Lehmann continued his rough trot, whereby he has scored only two runs from three innings in BBL06.
When the Sixers raced to 34 without loss after four overs of their reply, it seemed as if the Strikers were headed for their third-straight defeat, however a combination of tight bowling and sharp fielding turned the tide dramatically as the Magenta Men were routed for just 104. Young quick Billy Stanlake impressed with a hostile spell to capture 3/17, while wily veteran Ben Laughlin bounced back from being dropped against the Scorchers to claim a magnificent 2/10 off four overs.
Spin also played a key role in the Strikers’ performance with Tom Andrews (0/17) and Travis Head (1/14) opening the bowling, while awkward leg-spinner Liam O’Connor continued to bamboozle the opposition with 2/12 off three overs, bringing his economy rate over the tournament down to just 6.20.
Back on Boxing Day the match between the Hurricanes and Melbourne Stars produced a whopping 379 runs with the Stars comfortably overhauling Hobart’s 4/188. Facing up to the new ball at Bellerive seems to hold few disadvantages with the opening partnership averaging 41.33 in the last three games at Hobart and openers top-scoring in four out of six innings’.
- The Hurricanes have won only one of their past seven matches.
- The Hurricanes have also lost five out of their past seven games at Bellerive Oval, including the last three straight.
- The Strikers have won seven of their last nine away games.
- The Strikers have also won three out of four matches against the Hurricanes.
The punters are finding it very hard to separate these teams with very little difference in the odds between the two sides.
After surprising early, the Hurricanes appear to have regressed towards pre-tournament expectations, putting in a couple of ordinary performances against the Stars and Heat. One could argue that they at least batted well against the Stars, then ran into two of the hottest batsmen in the competition when they faced the Heat, however that would overlook their sloppiness in the field and lack of control with the ball. Against Brisbane it also became increasingly evident that their batting is highly reliant on the experienced pair of Tim Paine and George Bailey, with Kumar Sangakkara hopelessly out of form and the likes of Darcy Short and Dan Christian very hit-and-miss. Their recent form, particularly at home, does not make for great reading, and as such I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them at this sort of price.
The Strikers, meanwhile, appear to be heading in the opposite direction with a highly-spirited win, following a couple of disheartening defeats. While it would certainly be a stretch to say that they are back to the sort of form which delivered them consecutive minor premierships in BBL04 and BBL05, they do finally seem to have found the right mix in their bowling attack with a variety of slow-bowling options that helps to offset the loss of Adil Rashid. Their inconsistency with the bat remains a concern, however their top-order has enough pedigree to overlook a couple of average performances against stronger opponents than they will face here.
With a robust record on the road and against their opponents, plus a form-line that traverses that of their struggling hosts, I’ll be jumping on the Strikers to make it two on the trot and consign the Hurricanes to yet another loss on home soil.
BACK – Adelaide Strikers at $1.85 or bigger for 2 units.