Our prediction is Sydney Thunder to win!
Match 8 of the Big Bash League 2018-19 is the first ‘Sydney Smash’ – always a game fans look forward to – of the season. Even more so this season after both sides won their opening matches against Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers respectively. This match opened the tournament last year and Watson helped Thunder chase down 150 to win by five wickets off the final ball of the game.
Both of these sides will field two English players as their overseas stars so there are some bragging rights to play for as Thunder’s Jos Buttler and Joe Root go head to head with the Sixers’ Joe Denly and Tom Curran.
Over history, these sides have featured the pick of the talent available in New South Wales so watching the likes of Moises Henriques and Daniel Hughes go up against Shane Watson and Daniel Sams is always fascinating.
For all the fanfare around Buttler and Root, it was Sangha, making his BBL debut, who stole the show for Thunder against the Stars with an unbeaten 63 in 36 balls that made him the youngest man to score a BBL half-century. That was a huge boost for a Thunder side already missing Usman Khawaja and Pat Cummins.
Daniel Sams’ burst of 3-5 was also vital and from that opening match, it seems that Thunder have a nicely balanced squad. They will need to start well given Buttler and Root are not available for the whole tournament, but so far, so good.
They will therefore be unlikely to make changes for this match and will simply hope for more of the same. Fawad Ahmed didn’t get a bowl due to the rain in the first game and he will hope to play more of a role in this one.
Jos Buttler (wk), Shane Watson (c), Callum Ferguson, Joe Root, Jason Sangha, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Nathan McAndrew, Gurinder Sandhu, Sam Rainbird, Fawad Ahmed
The Sixers got off to a winning start by beating three-time champions Perth Scorchers by 17 runs at the SCG. Fine innings from Hughes and Jordan Silk meant they hardly needed contributions from elsewhere with the bat. The pair put on a record Sixers fourth-wicket stand of 124 before Sean Abbott and Steve O’Keefe – two more NSW stalwarts – took three wickets apiece.
They will take plenty of confidence from that match into this one, particularly as they were in trouble early on but rebuilt cleverly by shifting through the gears. O’Keefe’s spell of three wickets in two overs put the Scorchers under pressure from which they could not recover – but he may find a sterner test awaits against Thunder.
They may be tempted to name the same team for this match. Although Lloyd Pope struggled, he will probably be given another opportunity to impress and it might damage his confidence to drop him after just one game.
Jack Edwards, Joe Denly, Moises Henriques (c), Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Josh Phlippe (wk), Tom Curran, Sean Abbott, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Dwarshius, Lloyd Pope
It’s forecast to be warm with some showers over the weekend before getting warmer and dryer on Monday. Thunder are unlikely to have another match interrupted by the rain. The Spotless Stadium usually produces a fast, bouncy wicket which should encourage run-scoring.
After playing their first match at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, Thunder return to their regular home, the Spotless Stadium in Sydney. Also known as the Sydney Showground Stadium, this is a very new venue and has seen just 14 Twenty20 internationals. There is quite an even split between sides winning batting first and second and the average score batting first is 153.
Teams playing here last season tried both batting and fielding first with neither option having a clear advantage. With the pitch being perhaps truer here than other venues, teams are happy to chase if the weather is forecast to behave. The Sixers were the first team in the tournament to choose to bat so they may look to do so again. Thunder may be happy to set a target just like they did against the Stars.
Over the years, the Sixers have dominated this fixture – it took Thunder eight attempts to win one. However, they are slowly turning the tables and actually lead the head-to-head 2-1 at the Spotless Stadium. Both teams have quality bowlers capable of turning a match on its head but on a fast track, we think Thunder’s deeper batting reserves will hand them the edge over their city rivals.
Featured bookmaker: Betway