January 30, 2020
Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Thunder
Venue: Blundstone Arena | Start: 7:40pm (AEDT)
Hobart Hurricanes – The Canes enter the finals series on a high after smashing the fourth-highest ever Big Bash total against the Strikers (1/217) on Sunday’s to book a spot in the playoffs. Not only did they get past one of the tournament fancies, but they leapt into fourth to earn this home ‘Eliminator’, the winner of which will play the Strikers in the ‘Knockout’. And while everyone gets their head around the new terminology of the BBL’s finals series, one thing is clear that life is much tougher this time around for those who finish in the last few finals spot. While previous years saw a straightforward first vs. fourth/second vs. third semi-final system – that is, one win away from the final – this year the Hurricanes or Thunder will need to win three times before they earn a spot in the final.
But if any side can do it, it’s likely the Hurricanes whose opening combination of Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short could break this finals series open. The two have scored 252 and 175 runs respectively in their last three Big Bash games, and undoubtedly hold the key to victory here. Further, young quick Nathan Ellis has proved a revelation this season and has bowled an astonished 127 deliveries at the death (last five overs) throughout BBL09 – more than any other player. Going at just over 9 runs an over during this period, he remains a man Wade can happily throw the ball when the onslaught looms.
The Canes welcome back previously-dumped all-rounder Simon Milenko in their 13-man squad, who returns for South African David Miller who has returned home.
Sydney Thunder – The Thunder can thank the new BBL finals structure for their place in this year’s playoffs; their fifth place finish the first time a side outside the top-four has progressed beyond the regular season. They did it the hard way, too, beating the Scorchers on Sunday in a last-over thriller to seal their place.
Coach Shane Bond said this week that while he knows the Hurricanes are tough to beat at home, his side has shown throughout the season they can match it with the best. “We’ve beaten them once this season, we’ve beaten the Strikers once this season, we’ve tied and beaten the Sixers, so it’s not like we have anything to be afraid of,” he said. The Kiwi would go on to say that, like the Hurricanes with Wade and Short, the Thunder have two dominant openers in Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja. But he also conceded that, similar to the Canes, they have weaknesses. “Some of their other players in the middle have struggled a bit – very similar to us, really. So we know that if we can take care of those openers, that’s really important.” Specifically, Bond needs skipper Callum Ferguson (no score above 12 in last six BBL games) to lift should they wish to book a date with the Strikers on Saturday.
The Thunder have made one change in the 13-man squad, with paceman Brendan Doggett returning at the expense of fellow quick Gurinder Sandhu.
Betting Analysis – These two split the points this season, with one win apiece. The second of these clashes was at Blundstone Arena, where the Hurricanes easily prevailed by 57 runs. But the ground hasn’t been as much of a fortress as previous seasons for the home side, with two wins and two losses in BBL09. Given his incredible form touched on above, Wade is tough to look past in the individual batting markets. With the ball, Ellis has improved each game throughout the season and could be one to pick up late wickets when the Thunder look to accelerate. For the visitors, like Wade, Hales is in superb touch and the outstanding individual option with the bat. Similarly, Daniel Sams leads the tournament leading wicket taker list by three and remains the best option in that market.
Head to Head: Hobart Hurricanes
Top Runs Scorer – Hobart Hurricanes: Matthew Wade
Most Wickets – Hobart Hurricanes: Nathan Ellis
Top Runs Scorer – Sydney Thunder: Alex Hales
Most Wickets – Sydney Thunder: Daniel Sams