Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat
Tuesday, 08:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport
The race for the play-offs could barely be more beautifully poised. The teams placed second top and second bottom are separated by a mere three points.
Today’s winner could go second
Scorchers and Heat are in the thick of it, separated by just one point. Fifth and sixth respectively, both have a game in hand on the rest and could move up to a second if winning and claiming the bonus point here.
Both have done remarkably well to turn around poor starts to the tournament. Perth were on a great run of five comprehensive victories before going down to champions and runaway leaders Sydney Sixers. Brisbane have won four of their last five.
Perth’s collapse against Sixers was a blip
I’m happy to ignore that defeat to Sixers – the result of an unlikely middle-order batting collapse. Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone had set a great platform but after the latter’s dismissal, Scorchers finished 59-8 off the last 59 balls.
There’s no reason to expect that again from a strong, deep middle order. This is a top-class T20 outfit from top to bottom. Jhye Richardson is the best bowler in the tournament, with the most wickets and an excellent 6.53 economy. Roy has made a big impact, averaging 39. Both have ample back-up.
Heat’s batting is much stronger now
In terms of personnel, this Heat side can’t compete, although that isn’t always the criteria in T20 where balance is all important. Since the batting was beefed up by Chris Lynn’s return from injury, Joe Burns from international duty and Joe Denly arrived from England, they have depth.
Their star with the ball is not a big international name but, with 18 wickets, Mark Steketee is second best in the tournament. Losing Mujeeb Ur Rahman to international duty is however a massive blow.
Par run line is around 155
This is the first match at the Marvel Stadium this season. Toss bias isn’t particularly evident from past results, with chasers leading 9-7 in the last 16 matches. Only three of those First Innings Runs totals reached 170. There were five below 140 in that period but none in the last eight.
Beware making any confident predictions about batting conditions given the lack of recent evidence. Scores have been middling at different venues of late and that, somewhere around 155, is the historic norm here. At 11.5, the Total Sixes line is on the high side – it was beaten only five times out of 16.
Looking back, there’s been a lot of close finishes at the Marvel Stadium, so there’s a high chance both sides will trade somewhat higher than their starting odds.
Scorchers rated the superior outfit
Scorchers thoroughly deserve favouritism at around 1.84/5 but instead of taking that pre-match, employ my “25% rule” and place an order to back them at 2.26/5. They were in superb form prior to the Sixers defeat. No reflection on Heat, but their line-up simply looks inferior.
The numbers suggest Heat are too reliant on Chris Lynn – 11/5 favourite for Top Heat Runscorer. He’s top-scored on four out of his six appearances, including the last three. He’s hit a quarter of their sixes, despite playing only 60% of the matches.
Such a run is bound to come to an end and reproducing his form against Perth’s new ball attack will be quite the challenge.
Bazley fair value from middle-order
Alternatives to Lynn in that market include 4/1 about Joe Denly and the same odds for Joe Burns. If looking for value at bigger odds, 18/1 about James Bazley could be the one, batting at either six or seven.
Livingstone is favourite for Perth at 11/5, ahead of Roy at 11/4. Colin Munro is also a strong candidate at 3/1. In this team’s case, I’d be inclined to stick to one of that top-three.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty