February 1, 2020
Adelaide Strikers v Sydney Thunder
Venue: Adelaide Oval | Start: 7:40pm (AEDT)
Adelaide Strikers – The Strikers are primed for finals success, coming into the playoffs with four wins in their last give games. And while a loss in their last game meant they would finish third – and have a longer path to the final – Jason Gillespie’s squad is arguably the most balanced in the competition. With Englishman Phil Salt finding form with Jake Weatherald at the top, plus skipper Travis Head, Alex Carey and the best number five in the competition in Jono Wells, the Strikers top five is perhaps strongest of the remaining four sides. Combined with Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle with the ball, it’s an experienced, settled lineup.
Head said on Friday that Usman Khawaja’s return to form on Thursday night’s Eliminator (54 off 34) was an ominous warning to his bowlers. “He’s done it to us in a final before, so he’s very important,” Head said, referring to the Khawaja’s 104 off just 59 in the BBL05 semi-final. “They showed his stats in finals (on TV) last night, and they’re exceptional. That’s what you want from world-class players, and he’s one of them. You want them to step up in big games, and he’s done that consistently over a period of time.”
The Strikers have named an unchanged squad from the one that posted 207 in the losing effort against the Hurricanes on Sunday.
Sydney Thunder – It’s one win down, two to go for the Thunder in their unlikely quest to make the BBL09 final. They passed the first hurdle with flying colours on Thursday night, comfortably accounting for the Hurricanes in Hobart by 57 runs. Alex Hales continued his brilliant form (255 runs in last four innings) with a quick-fire 60 off 37 while more importantly, Khawaja signalled his return to form with a damaging 54 off 34. But it was spinner Jono Cook who stole the show with 4-21, dismissing both Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short (top-two BBL runscorers last season) on his way to grabbing man of the match honours.
The Thunder will need to win nine games in four days to lift the BBL09 trophy, but Cook said post-game the packed schedule could be a positive, and that teams who have earned time off could stutter. “Throughout the season you’re not used to having six or seven days off,” he said. “If you make that finals and you play those three or four games it can be a real benefit, particularly if make the final, you’ve won three games (in a row) so you’ve got that momentum.”
Shane Bond announced no changes to their 13-man squad for the trip to Adelaide.
Betting Analysis – With an incredible 424 runs scored in the last clash at the Adelaide Oval, it’s likely this Knockout encounter will see batsman-friendly conditions again. And while any of the home side’s top five are top runscorer hopes, Carey is primed to go big. With the ball, look for Siddle to top the wicket-taker market at a venue he has taken 11 wickets in six games at this season. For the visitors, Hales has top scored in each of their last four games and is the undeniable top runscorer option. With the ball, look for leading BBL09 wicket-taker Daniel Sams to continue his brilliant campaign.
Head to Head: Adelaide Strikers
Top Runs Scorer – Adelaide Strikers: Alex Carey
Most Wickets – Adelaide Strikers: Peter Siddle
Top Runs Scorer – Sydney Thunder: Alex Hales
Most Wickets – Sydney Thunder: Daniel Sams