Our prediction is Hobart Hurricanes to win.
Match 34 of the Big Bash League sees the in-form Hobart Hurricanes travel to Western Australia to take on Perth Scorchers, a side also on a good run after making a poor start to the competition. These are two of the most successful teams in BBL history with three titles and seven final appearances between them. Only once has a season concluded with neither of them in the final.
These two met in Perth at a similar stage last season and on that occasion, the Scorchers won by five wickets with four balls remaining. D’Arcy Short had a rare off day and it was a very different Scorchers attack that limited the Hurricanes to 167. However, when they met again in the semi-final, the Hurricanes won by 71 runs.
Overall, the Scorchers lead the head-to-head between these two with six wins to four. The Hurricanes have won the last two times they have met, including a six-wicket win at home earlier this season.
It has taken the Scorchers longer than they would have liked to make an impression on this season’s tournament and they have only taken three wins from their first eight matches – a record which threatens their chances of making the play-offs. They are coming off a pair of good wins against Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers which will give them a confidence boost going into this match.
Cameron Bancroft scored half-centuries in both matches and his return to form has been a huge boost for a Scorchers side that has been hit by both injury problems and international call-ups. They will again be without Shaun and Mitchell Marsh as well as Jason Behrendorff for this one while Joel Paris remains absent with a back injury but is hopeful of soon making a return. Scorchers must be tempted to name the same team that has got them back to winning ways but must improve their fielding if they are to prevail.
Cameron Bancroft, Michael Klinger, Sam Whiteman (wk), Ashton Turner (c), Hilton Cartwright, Chris Green, Nathan Coulter-Nile, David Willey, Andrew Tye, Matthew Kelly, Usman Qadir
The Hurricanes have a clear advantage at the top of the table and it is easy to see why. Their opening combination of Short and Matthew Wade is in outstanding form – they now have seven 50+ partnerships together. They have an incredibly balanced attack, with left-arm and right-arm pace options and a plethora of spinners to call upon. Victory against the Stars showed that they have the mental fortitude to bounce back from defeat and they have still only made one change to their team all season, when Jake Doran came in for Alex Doolan against the Stars.
With Doran missing this match to play in the tour game against Sri Lanka, Doolan should come straight back into the side – even though he is badly out of form. That is perhaps the one question mark for the Hurricanes, who are still weighing up whether to bring in an overseas replacement – perhaps another batsman – to offset the loss of Tymal Mills to injury. Otherwise, more of the same will do just fine.
Matthew Wade (c, wk), D’Arcy Short, Alex Doolan, Ben McDermott, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Johan Botha, Clive Rose, Riley Meredith, Jofra Archer
The Perth pitch has been a real mixed bag this season. When the Strikers visited, it was spicy and favoured the quick bowlers. The same was true when Brisbane Heat arrived but last time, against Sydney Stars, the Scorchers found themselves on a pitch that was good for batting, making it hard to predict what to expect. It will be warm and dry all week.
The Optus Stadium, as a relatively new venue, has only staged four domestic T20s and the last three matches have seen the side batting second emerge victorious. The average score batting first is 152 but the Strikers were bowled out for just 88 here earlier this season. It suggests both teams should be ready for anything.
The Hurricanes have not won the toss in either of their last two matches but only once when they have won the toss have they batted first. The Scorchers, meanwhile, have always batted second after winning the toss. Given the unpredictable nature of the pitch in Perth, it seems likely that both sides will prefer to chase.
Historically speaking, these are two of the BBL’s best sides, but one of them is a long way clear of the other right now. Having opened up a gap at the top of the table, the Hurricanes will be desperate to consolidate that and look far too strong in all areas for a Scorchers side which is missing several players due to international call-ups. Even if they had the Marsh brothers present you would make the Hurricanes favourites and they should complete a third straight win ovet the Scorchers.
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