KFC Big Bash 5 – 6 January

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

2016 is upon us and already the KFC Big Bash has thrown up some incredible individual and team performances. Now, as we near the business end of the season, the teams are battling it out for every possible log point as they try and secure a place in the play-offs.

Tuesday January 5

Strikers 1/1
Draw 35/1
Scorchers 8/10
It’s first vs third as the Adelaide Strikers welcome the Perth Scorchers to the Adelaide oval on Tuesday morning. This will be the second time this season that these two teams have met with the Strikers winning the previous encounter by four wickets. That would prove to be the only blip in the Scorchers’ season thus far as they’ve gone on to win their subsequent three matches.

The Strikers beat the Sixers last time out thanks to an outstanding effort from Travis Head who scored an unbeaten 101 off of just 53 deliveries. His innings was made to be all the more remarkable as it took him 19 balls to score his first boundary. Once he got going he was unstoppable. The Sixers would have been in confident mood when the ball was thrown to Sean Abbott in the 18th over with the Strikers needing 51 runs from 18 balls. What followed was an absolute master-class from Head who was on 45 at the time.

With 27 runs coming from the 18th over and a further 11 coming from the 19th over, the Strikers needed 13 runs to win off the final over. Up stepped Abbott who was smashed for three successive sixes off the first three balls of the over – Head moving to 101* and the Strikers claiming their third win of the campaign. While most of the credit will go to Head, you can’t forget about the contributions made by Adil Rashid and Jon Holland who did a fantastic job of reigning in the Sixers’ batsmen in the middle overs of the clash.

On paper, the Strikers don’t look as though they have the strongest squad, however; they’ve been nothing short of sensational this season with everyone involved pulling their weight. Solid bowling performances have been backed up with explosive batting displays. They could well go on to cause a few more upsets this season – keep your eyes peeled.

The Scorchers have been excellent thus far – especially when you consider how many key players they've lost to the Australian national side. This coupled with the shoulder injury picked up by Nathan Coulter-Nile and their lack of any world-class overseas players means their position atop the Big Bash log is all the more surprising.

Their last two performances have been nothing short of sensational. They smashed the Melbourne Renegades by 10 wickets before trouncing the Sixers by nine wickets a few days later. They look to be the form side heading into the second half of the competition.

Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh have been superb at the top of the order amassing 376 runs between them so far. Plaudits also need to go to Andrew Tye and Jason Behrendorff have been the pick of the bowlers in recent weeks, restricting opposition run rates while striking at crucial intervals. They’ve been well supported by David Willey, Joel Paris and the evergreen Brad Hogg. They could well go on to claim an unprecedented third straight BBL title if they carry continue in this form.

As much as I like the Strikers, I wouldn’t dare bet against this Scorchers side. Since their opening defeat, they’ve barely put a foot wrong. I fully expect the Perth side to claim the victory at 8/10.

Wednesday 6 January

Stars 31/50
Draw 35/1
Hurricanes 5/4
After a rather disappointing start to their BBL05 campaign, the Stars finally look as though they may well come right. They claimed an impressive victory last time out against their crosstown rivals, the Renegades in front of a record Big Bash crowd of 80, 883 who had piled into the MCG to watch the likes of Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Dwayne Bravo and Kevin Pietersen.

The night, however, would belong to Luke Wright who went on to score an unbeaten 109 off just 63 balls. That knock would prove decisive after David Hussey won the toss and asked the Renegades to bat. They would go on to set a rather lightweight total of 161-7 – probably around 10 – 15 short of what they would have targeted. Cameron White top scored for the Renegades with 54 from 39 deliveries. John Hastings was the pick of the Stars’ bowlers bagging figures of 29-4 from his four overs.

Wright’s match-winning innings came at a time when Pietersen (6) and Maxwell (22) both failed to get going and kick on. The English journeyman did a fantastic job of hanging onto the strike as his partners all struggled to score against some pretty disciplined bowling. In the end though, the victory may well prove to be the catalyst they need to really get going and push for a play-off spot.

The Hurricanes will be disappointed after they were trounced last time out by the Renegades. Having lost the toss and being sent into bat, the Hobart side will have been looking to start 2016 out with a win over their far more illustrious opponents. It wasn’t to be, however, as they limped to 140-5 from their 20 overs, Dan Christian top scoring with a 40-ball 58.

They never looked like defending their meagre total after Chris Gayle and Aaron Finch got off to a flyer. The pair put on 84 for the first wicket, with Gayle bludgeoning 41 runs from just 15 deliveries. By the time he departed though, the game was already won for the Renegades.

The Stars’ win over the Renegades could prove to be a pivotal moment in their season. If they can follow it up with another win against the men from Hobart, they’ll be right back in the mix for a play-off spot. I’m backing the Stars and their big guns to get the job done on Wednesday at (??)

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