Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes
Sunday January 24
TV: live on BT Sport
Returning duo boost the Sixers’ options
The Sixers lost to city rival the Thunder last time out and with the Scorchers’ on an excellent run, are now under a bit of pressure to hold onto top spot.
Whether they top the group or not, this has been a superb campaign for a side who despite being the defending champions, weren’t one of the top two in the betting at the start.
They’ve also had to deal with more injuries and absences for other reasons than most so it’s testament to a good structure and solid plans that they’ve done so well, despite the personnel changes and absent players.
Sean Abbott was unlucky to miss out last time but will surely play here after sitting ‘on the pine’ for the whole of Australia’s Test series against India. He’ll be raring to go.
Moises Henriques looked composed and fluent rather than rusty and ragged last time out (he also hadn’t played for weeks) in getting to 50 but interestingly, it’s been decided that Dan Hughes carries on as captain.
Hurricanes’ have batting decisions to make
The Hurricanes are fighting for their lives after a really poor run that has seen them lose four out of their last five. At one stage they looked like candidates to win the Group Stages but the performances have just dried up and they’ve either done one discipline or the other well, but rarely both.
They’re in a strange position where they have a load of openers to choose from and need to make sure they get their batting order right. All of Matthew Wade, D’Arcy Short, Dawid Malan and Ben McDermott would prefer to open so they’ll need to work out which way to go.
Last time out it was Short and Wade up top, McDermott and then Malan but that means the Englishman looks a bit wasted at four. But McDermott is their top scorer by a country mile this season and Wade and Short are one of the most prolific partnerships in the history of the BBL so you can see the conundrum.
Sixers should win but…
This one’s at the MCG where the last three scores batting first were 182, 173 and 179. All three of those teams batting first won so that should be the way to go for whoever wins the toss. The wicket looked pretty good throughout when the Scorchers beat the Stars on Saturday so it might be scoreboard pressure rather than a slowing pitch that could be the main barrier for the chasing team.
The Sixers are 1.84/5 and there’s no doubt they’re the better all-round team. But that Top 4 we mentioned for the Hurricanes should be respected and it only takes a good 70 or 75 from one of them to get to, or chase, a good total. So we’ll give this one a miss on the favourites, also because we note the Hurricanes are 7-5 up on the head to head, including a 16-run win earlier on in the competition.
The Hurricanes aren’t a bet by the way because we strongly favour the Sixers’ bowling and think the men in Magenta have bat deeper.
Josh to go again
The Sportsbook have dangled a carrot in the form of a boosted quote of 3/1 about Josh Philippe top scoring and that’s too good to turn down.
He’s the second highest runscorer in the competition on 441, is averaging 36 at a very impressive strike rate of exactly 150.0 and has looked in really good touch all tournament. He’s a contender for Player of the Tournament.
Before an unlucky runout at the non-striker’s end in the last one he’d hit 64 and 84 so is in particularly good form right now. Sure, there’s a lot of talent in that Sixers’ batting line-up but 10 overs of Philippe and it shouldn’t matter much what anyone else does.
The original 5/2 quote was about right but 3/1 is genuine value.
Reasons for Wading in
For the Hurricanes I’m going to chance Matthew Wade at 7/2. He didn’t get many last time but I’d be amazed if he doesn’t open again and his record in the Bash as an opener is excellent. Short (11/4) top-scored last time out with 43 off 37, typical of a season where his strike rate has been down and he’s rarely kicked on after a decent start.
He’s averaging just 20 for the season.
Wade is mostly preferred to McDermott (11/4) on price and to Malan (7/2) purely because he’s likely to open and the latter isn’t. It’s not unthinkable that Short and Wade roll back the years, put on a partnership of 80-plus and no-one else gets much of a hit.