Our prediction is Adelaide Strikers to win!
Match 28 of the Big Bash League sees a high-profile clash – after a day’s break – between Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers. There are only two points separating these two sides despite the Strikers being second in the table and Thunder being third from bottom. As all eight teams are separated by just six points, it proves how close this season’s competition has been.
When Thunder hosted the Strikers at the Spotless Stadium last season, the Strikers won by 25 runs, thanks largely to an innings of 48 by in-form batsman Colin Ingram and three wickets from Michael Neser. Over BBL history, the Strikers hold the edge with six wins to three, including two at the Spotless Stadium to Thunder’s one. That also includes a victory at the Adelaide Oval earlier in the season so the Strikers are looking to do the double over Thunder for the second season in a row.
Although Thunder started the tournament strongly with two wins, since then they have stuttered along. Their only win since then was by just one run against Perth Scorchers and they have now lost two in a row. Last time out, they leaked runs against Brisbane Heat and were well behind when rain stopped play in the sixth over of their reply.
They go into this match having to make changes due to the departures of Joe Root and Jos Buttler. The former didn’t really fire but the latter was easily Thunder’s star of the first part of the competition and will be hard to replace. Anton Devcich and Chris Jordan come in from Super Smash action so at least they are T20 ready. Patrick Cummins remains unavailable as Cricket Australia want him to rest while Usman Khawaja is on international duty.
Expect Devcich and Jordan to come straight into the side but Thunder will have to accommodate wicket-keeper Jay Lenton now Buttler is away. They could do so by dropping Sam Rainbird, who has gone four games without taking a wicket.
Anton Devcich, Shane Watson (c), Callum Ferguson, Jason Sangha, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Chris Jordan, Jay Lenton (wk), Gurinder Sandhu, Fawad Ahmed, Jonathan Cook
The Strikers have yet to put in a run of matches that really convinces you they are nailed on to retain their title but at the same time they have managed to bounce back from losing runs and are very much in contention. They were mighty impressive in beating Melbourne Stars by 41 runs in their last match with Ingram and Travis Head taking the game beyond their opponents with the bat.
Ben Laughlin made a fine return to the team with three wickets and should keep his place even if he can expect a somewhat slower pitch in Sydney than the one on which he excelled in Melbourne. Expect Rashid Khan to play a key role once again with Head quite prepared to bowl himself if he needs an extra over or two of spin.
With Alex Carey away on international duty but Billy Stanlake available for this one, there is every chance that the Strikers will make just the one change, perhaps leaving Wes Agar out to accommodate the pacer.
Matt Short, Jake Weatherald, Travis Head (c), Colin Ingram, Rashid Khan, Jonathan Wells, Harry Nielsen (wk), Michael Neser, Billy Stanlake, Ben Laughlin, Liam O’Connor
It is going to be warm and dry throughout the weekend in Sydney which might just liven up the pitch at the Showground Stadium a touch. It also takes the possibility of a rain-affected match out of the equation.
The Showground Stadium has now hosted 17 Twenty20 matches and there is little obvious advantage for sides batting first or second when looking at the overall statistics. However, the last six matches at the venue have been won by the side batting first. It has provided a pitch that has been quite sluggish so far and run-scoring has been far from easy. The highest score in this year’s competition was Brisbane’s 186-8 last time out.
Thunder lost four tosses in a row, then won three, choosing to bat first twice and then bowl, so it would be hard to state exactly what they will try and do if they win the toss. The Strikers, meanwhile, have won their last two matches batting after winning the toss and given their record against Thunder of setting a target and then closing it out, they might well fancy another crack at that.
Thunder will be hit hard by the departure of Buttler. Even if Root underperformed, they now have to reshape their squad at a crucial stage of the season. The Strikers have shown how capable their squad is as even without Carey, Stanlake and Peter Siddle, they have been able to produce results. Having Head back for a couple of games is a huge boost – as is Stanlake for this one – and it should help them make it five wins in a row for them against Thunder.
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