KFC Big Bash 26 December - 27 December

Written by Jason Dewey for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

After brief yet well-deserved Christmas break, the KFC Big Bash makes a welcome return to South African television screens on Boxing Day.

We've seen plenty of giant killings so far with one or two of the smaller clubs putting the bigger sides - we're looking at you Kevin Pietersen and co over at the Stars - to the sword in spectacular fashion. That being said, there is plenty of value to be found, let's see if we can find a few winners.

Saturday 26 December

Perth Scorchers 6/10
Draw 35/1
Brisbane Heat 14/10
The Perth Scorchers got their BBL title defence off to the worst possible start on Monday when they were downed by the Adelaide Strikers at the WACA. Their issues were compounded after Nathan Coulter-Nile – the only Australian seamer cleared to play in the Big Bash – was forced to leave the field after dislocating his shoulder following a rather innocuous looking fall. The quick will be unavailable for around 12 weeks and will miss the remainder of the competition.

He should be replaced by Ashton Agar. The 22-year-old slow left-arm orthodox bowler will give the Scorchers another valuable spin option alongside veteran Brad Hogg. It may not be such a bad idea to employ two spinners at the WACA where the temperatures have been exceedingly warm in the last few weeks. The track is likely to be fairly dry, and with the likes of Nathan Lyon and Adil Rashid finding a lot of joy on tracks that traditionally favour the quicks, Agar could make the difference on Boxing Day.

There will be wholesale changes to the side before the Boxing Day fixture with Shaun and Mitchell Marsh as well as Adam Voges all returning to the Australian Test squad. Some big decisions are going to have to be made ahead of this match with so many notable absentees – changes that are likely to significantly weaken the starting XI.

The Heat will be desperate to claim their first win of this year’s competition after being downed by 7 wickets in their opener against the red-hot Renegades, and then falling 20 runs short against the Hurricanes on Monday.

If there’s one thing the Heat’s management can be thankful for, it’s that they’ve only lost one player – Joe Burns – to the Australian national side. Jason Floros will likely continue in his place after his impressive performance with both ball and bat against the Hurricanes last time out. The Canberra native smashed a 23-ball 42 while his two overs went for just 12 runs.

If the Heat are to claim their first victory of the season, they’ll need their two West Indian superstars to come right. Both Lendl Simmons and Samuel Badree have failed to impress in their first two games and will need to pick it up if they want to propel their side into the playoffs come January.

The Heat have been quite unlucky this season, and with the Scorchers losing so many of their best players to the Australian Test squad, I’d be tempted to back the Perth side on Boxing Day. Back them to claim their first points of BBL05 with a win against the beleaguered defending champions.

Sunday 27 December

Sydney Sixers 9/10
Draw 35/1
Melbourne Stars 9/10
After their disappointing opening day defeat to the Thunder, the Sixers have recovered well by decimating the Hurricanes and then beating the much-fancied Renegades by three wickets in Melbourne last time out.

Michael Lumb and Moses Henriques starred with the bat bagging scores of 63 (35) and 62 (38) respectively. Although a flurry of late wickets threatened to derail the Sixers’ chase, Sean Abbott and Trent Lawford kept their cool, completing the Sydney side's largest successful BBL run chase, taking the two log points back to Sydney with them.

Even without their star spinner, Nathan Lyon, the Sixers have looked strong with ball in hand. It was somewhat surprising perhaps that Henriques didn’t toss the ball to his spinners more often on a deck that has traditionally favoured the slower bowlers. Johan Botha only bowled two of his four allocated overs and claimed one wicket while conceding just 13 runs. He can hardly be blamed though, especially considering the wealth of world-class quicks the Sixers have on their books - expect them to star again after Boxing Day at the SCG. 

The Stars have endured a disappointing start to their 2015/16 Big Bash campaign going down to the Strikers and the Thunder – two teams they would expect to beat. Even with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Glenn Maxwell, Luke Wright and James Faulkner in their squad; they’ve failed to make a real mark on this season’s competition.

There was a marked improvement in their second game against the Thunder though, and even though they lost that particular fixture, they shouldn’t feel too hard done by. A magical 70-ball 109 from Usman Khawaja and late cameos from Mike Hussey 16 (11) and Andre Russell 22 (16) took the Sydney side to 178-6.

In response, the Stars got off to a decent start with Marcus Stonis and Luke Wright putting on 48 for the first wicket. What followed was an absolute master class from mercurial Englishman, Kevin Pietersen. The burley top order batsman bludgeoned 76 from 42 balls before falling to Clint MaKay in the 18th over. That moment would prove pivotal as the Stars fell one run short of their target after needing eight from the final over.

The Stars haven’t really clicked yet, however, they have more than enough individual talent to beat any club / franchise T20 side in the world. They’ll be desperate to claim their first two log points of the season. Back them to claim the win at (9/10)

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