Fresh from their dramatic last-ball victory over the Melbourne Renegades, the Perth Scorchers welcome the Sydney Thunder to the WACA on New Year’s Day.
The Scorchers wrapped up their second win of the season at Docklands Stadium on Thursday, although they had to do it the hard way despite dominating for the majority of the match. Bowling first, the Scorchers restricted the Renegades to a mediocre 8/148 off their 20 overs. English all-rounder David Willey led from the front, claiming 2/15 from three overs, while after impressing with the bat in earlier games, youngster Ashton Turner showed his capabilities with the ball, picking up 2/25 with his off-spin. Unfortunately Turner’s namesake and fellow tweaker Ashton Agar did not make the most of the conditions at Docklands, with his solitary over taken for 12.
In reply veteran Michael Klinger (72 off 55 balls) and the powerful Mitchell Marsh (34 off 22 balls) guided Perth to the brink of victory, however the dismissal of Marsh in the final over brought on some jitters and left the Scorchers requiring three off the last ball to win. It was left to Agar to have the last laugh, depositing the ball over midwicket and into the stands to claim a famous victory.
Although they will be pleased to get the win, the Scorchers will be concerned that they very nearly managed to lose the game from a near-impenetrable position – needing just 19 off 18 balls with eight wickets in hand. If they do find themselves in a similar position they won’t be able to call on Agar who has been drafted into the test squad, which has resulted in a recall for leg-spinner James Muirhead.
The Thunder are still looking for their first win of BBL06 after they were on the wrong end of another thriller, going down to the Brisbane Heat despite trading as low as 1.03. The defending champions struggled with the bat against the meek Heat bowling attack, only posting 7/157 thanks to a standout 52 off 43 balls from English T20I captain Eoin Morgan, as well as some stunning late hitting from all-rounder Chris Green who smacked 22 off just six balls.
Returning captain Shane Watson did not fare so well, dismissed for a six-ball duck in his first appearance of the season. However it seemed the Thunder were set to get their title defence back on track when they reduced the Heat to 6/63 off the back of some lightning quick bowling from Pat Cummins (2/46), complemented by spin duo Green (2/31) and Fawad Ahmed (2/19).
But with 65 runs required off the last five overs, Heat talisman Chris Lynn did the unthinkable and dragged Brisbane to victory, targeting both Cummins and Clint McKay in a vicious match-winning assault. Watson capped off a dreadful evening by dropping Lynn at a key stage, although the skipper was not alone with ‘keeper Jake Doran and star all-rounder Andre Russell also shelling simple chances. Russell also continued his lean time with the bat and is now averaging just 7.25 from his last four innings’.
The first game at the WACA this season saw the Scorchers amass 7/197 against the Strikers who fell 48 runs short of the target. That was Perth’s third win from their last four at home, while it’s also worth noting that five of the past eight opening partnerships have failed to reach double-figures.
- The Scorchers have won seven of their past 11 games.
- The Scorchers have won three out of their last four games at home.
- The Thunder have only beaten the Scorchers once from five attempts.
- However the Thunder have won three of their last four away games.
Punters are expecting the Thunder to remain winless, with the home side installed as healthy favourites.
After impressing in their opening match at home to the Strikers, the Scorchers haven’t quite hit the heights expected of them, going down to the Sixers at the SCG before falling over the line against an undermanned Renegades outfit at Docklands. That long and prolific batting line-up has failed to fire in their last two games, with the Scorchers brains-trust messing around with the order without producing the desired results. Meanwhile their bowling attack has shown plenty of promise, however they are still battling to plug the sizeable holes left by injuries to Coulter-Nile, Behrendorff and Paris, plus they will also now be without Agar which places the sole spin responsibilities on Turner.
But while Perth have been slightly underwhelming, the Thunder have been downright disappointing. None of their top-order batsmen are striking at better than 120 and aside from some brave efforts from Ryan Gibson, their youngsters have failed to step up and replace the runs left behind by Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis. The indifferent form of their illustrious international all-rounder Russell is symptomatic of their struggles as a whole, with the West Indian among a host of Thunder bowlers struggling to reproduce their deeds from BBL05.
On current form I couldn’t go anywhere near the Thunder, so it is really a question of whether you want to be with Perth or not, but given the Scorchers’ last couple of lethargic displays I believe they are prohibitively short here so will be giving the match odds a wide berth.
Where I believe the Scorchers have a more discernable advantage is at the beginning of each innings. In Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh they have arguably the strongest opening pair in the tournament, and then even if a wicket falls they can call on Ian Bell who is a specialist in the powerplay. Furthermore with the ball they have David Willey who is one of the most effective new-ball bowlers in this format, conceding runs at just 5.71 an over in the powerplay this season.
Conversely the Thunder’s opening pair of Kurtis Patterson and Ryan Gibson typically move at a very sedate run rate, with T20 career strike-rates of 98.46 and 110.58 respectively. Granted they do have Shane Watson at first drop, however Watson looked markedly out of sorts during his six-ball stay at the crease against the Heat. Meanwhile their new ball attack has been copping a bit of a hammering, with Pat Cummins (10.00) and Clint McKay (9.80) both recording colossal economy rates.
The Thunder have been outscored in the first six overs in two out of their three games so far, scoring an average of only 41, while conceding an average of 49. At the same time the Scorchers have been ahead of the game at the six over mark in two out of their three encounters, despite the fact that Klinger and Marsh are yet to really hit their straps. Therefore I’ll be backing the favourites to repeat the dose and chalk up the highest six over total.
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