Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Thunder at Bellerive Oval, Hobart. 30th January 2020
The first game of this year’s knock-out stages, featuring a new format, pits two of the less fancied sides together. The winner will progress to the ‘Knockout’ while the loser’s tournament will be finished.
The Hurricanes have won their last three matches having finally had both Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short available for selection. The pair put on 206 in their last outing. With Ben McDermott and George Bailey to follow the batting looks solid. However, overseas signing David Miller has returned to South Africa for International duty. James Faulkner returns to strengthen their bowling, but this is still their weaker suit. Faulkner is the only player in tomorrow’s squad going at less than 8 an over for Big Bash 2019/20.
In contrast the Thunder started the tournament well but fell away to finish 5th, winning only two of their final five matches. Their runs have come from the top 4, with Alex Hales leading the way with 449 runs at 37.41 and a strike rate of 144. The loss of Chris Green was highly significant but in Daniel Sam they have the tournaments highest wicket taker with 25.
The sides look evenly matched, with home advantage worth little in this tournament. I only make Hobart Hurricanes slight favourites, given their weak bowling, so will be siding with the Thunder.
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The Bellerive Oval is one of the better white-ball batting surfaces in Australia. Sides batting first average 167.3 historically in the Big Bash and we have seen scores of 147, 212, 175 and 185 this time around. Match fours average 27.5, more than any other ground regularly used, so look to get with runs.
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As mentioned above both sides batting relies on their top order. Short, Wade and Hales have all had great tournaments. Usman Khawaja will be a little disappointed with his 296 runs from 14 matches, but he is still a fantastic player at this level. Expect batting to be easy, particularly against the new ball and one way of leveraging this is to expect a strong opening partnership as the side batting 1st looks to build a total.
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Expected Line Ups
Matthew Wade*, D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott+, Mac Wright, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Clive Rose, Nathan Ellis, Qais Ahmed, Scott Boland
Usman Khawaja, Alex Hales, Callum Ferguson*, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Chris Morris, Jay Lenton+, Arjun Nair, Brendan Doggett, Chris Tremain, Jonathon Cook