It’s finals time in BBL09 and we have 4th versus 5th in the first-ever Elimination final in Big Bash history on Thursday night. The home-town Hobart Hurricanes earned the right to the host final at Blundstone Arena by winning their last 3 games and finishing 4th on the table. Meanwhile, the underdog Sydney Thunder outlasted the Perth Scorchers on Sunday and a Heat loss on Monday saw them stay in 5th position. As usual, we have a full betting preview for the massive clash below.
Hobart Hurricanes Squad (13): Matthew Wade ©, Qais Ahmad, George Bailey, Scott Boland, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, James Faulkner, Ben McDermott (wk), Simon Milenko, Tom Rogers, Clive Rose, D'Arcy Short, Mac Wright
Sydney Thunder Squad (13): Callum Ferguson ©, Liam Bowe, Jonathan Cook, Brendan Doggett, Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja, Jay Lenton, Nathan McAndrew, Chris Morris, Arjun Nair, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Chris Tremain (20)
Starting with the Hurricanes, the return of Matty Wade and D’Arcy Short made all the difference in the latter stage of the regular season as they obviously struggled in the middle of this season without them. The pair were particularly dominant at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday with a first-wicket stand of 203! Short played second fiddle with 72 off 55 as Wade carried his bat to the second-highest score in BBL history with his 130 not out off just 61 balls. They both love batting together, especially at this venue so this is a major matchup to watch in this final. There’s also extra motivation for the Hobart side as Tassie legend George Bailey lines up in his last ever game at Blundstone Arena. With Miller, McDermott and Bailey in this middle order, they do possess a wealth of experience in big matches if the ‘Canes do lose Wade or Short early on. The bowling unit benefits from the return of James Faulkner, who’s a key wicket-taker. Nathan Ellis has been impressive this season with his death-bowling and Boland has fitted in nicely by taking regular wickets in-place of the injured Meredith. The fact that Short also took 5 wickets against the Thunder in their recent meeting, really makes the Hurricanes a tough side to beat.
The ‘Canes skipper is in serious touch with the bat and we’ll be hoping that continues in this Elimination final. His 130 not out at the Adelaide Oval was simply brilliant as the Strikers bowlers had no answers to his array of shots. He smashed 7 sixes in the 61 ball innings and should have no troubles clearing the ropes with the shorter boundaries on offer at Blundstone Arena. He also has good form against the Thunder this season with a 56 at this venue on Jan 24. He’s reached 50+ in all of his last 3 BBL innings so we’re banking on the skipper to lead the Hurricanes to victory here.
The Sydney Thunder travel to Hobart on the back of a huge upset over the Scorchers in Sydney and they’ll be very keen to bounce back from a pretty embarrassing display against the Hurricanes last Friday. They were bowled out for just 128 in pursuit of 185 as their middle order completely collapsed. The main problem with the Thunder is their batting depth. Khawaja and Ferguson desperately need to find some form or they’ll continue to be heavily reliant on Hales / Ross to score the majority of runs. You also wouldn’t place much faith on Sams or Lenton if the Thunder are chasing down a total. However, the bowling department will be the key for the Thunder in creating an upset and they do have a number of wicket-takers. Sams has had a breakout season with the ball (25 wickets) and he forms a nice combination with the experienced Chris Morris. So they desperately need to get Wade and Short out early or this could get ugly.
If the Thunder are going to cause an upset, Alex Hales needs to continue his red-hot batting form. He led the way again in the Thunder’s successful chase at the Sydney Showground on Sunday with 47 off 27 balls and 4 sixes. He’s rarely failed with the bat lately after scoring 20 or more runs in 7 of his last 8 BBL innings. Which also includes scores of 47, 63 and 85 in the last 3 alone. To top it off, he was also the Thunder’s top scorer in their recent loss against the Hurricanes with 63 off 42 balls. So he should enjoy these short boundaries once again.
We see the Hobart Hurricanes as a very dangerous team that can challenge for the title by winning this Elimination final. They have excellent batting depth with Wade and Short back in the lineup. David Miller showed signs of life in the latter stages of the season and the emotional retirement of George Bailey will surely spur on the home side. The concern for the Thunder is their batting depth if they lose early wickets because they’re very reliant on Hales scoring 50+. As we’ve mentioned, we do believe Hales can score well in this matchup but whether the rest of the Thunder’s batting lineup can provide enough support is the question mark. Especially after they were bundled out for just 128 last week at this venue against the same team.
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