The finals hopes of Perth Scorchers go on the line when they take on the winless Sydney Thunder on Friday night at the WACA. Join us for live scores and a blog from the first ball, which is scheduled to be bowled at 7.40pm AEDT.
Perth Scorchers have played in the first two Big Bash League grand finals but unless they win tonight and take their record in BBL|03 to 2-2, it’s hard to imagine them lining up for a third shot at their first T20 title.
Having lost to the Brisbane Heat narrowly in their first match, the Scorchers successfully defended 117 against the Melbourne Renegades last weekend. However, their first innings total of 153 was easy pickings for the Adelaide Strikers on New Year’s Eve at the WACA.
The Scorchers batting simply hasn’t been good enough so far this season, but a return to the team by Australian representative Adam Voges gives the home team a better chance tonight of victory.
Too often this season the Scorchers have relied too heavily on Shaun and Mitch Marsh, as well as Simon Katich, to score the majority of their runs.
This has placed a lot of pressure on a bowling attack that is spearheaded by quality young paceman Jason Behrendorff.
His partner in crime, Nathan Coulter-Nile, is also very effective and a dangerous wicket-taker but he remains on standby for the Australians in Sydney and is therefore unavailable.
Even still, the Scorchers strength certainly lies in their bowling, where there is plenty of depth. Brad Hogg and Michael Beer offer strong spin options while the change of pace from South African seamer Alfonso Thomas and Pakistani Yasir Arafat gives the Scorchers’ bowling a touch of class.
Against a Thunder outfit that struggles with the bat, the Scorchers will back their bowlers to lead the team to victory tonight.
The Thunder hasn’t won in nearly 800 days and their losing streak now sits at 16, including three close losses this season.
Led by Michael Hussey, the Thunder has looked the winner at various stages against cross-town rivals the Sydney Sixers at the SCG and quality outfits Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Stars at home.
The problem for the Thunder has been poor middle-order batting. Their inability to post scores over 170, despite big contributions from Warner against the Sixers and then Hussey in their last two matches, has been costly.
Any opposition outfit knows once Eoin Morgan, their number four batsman, gets out the batting is very thin, especially without the injured Usman Khawaja and absent David Warner at the top of the order.
I’ve seen enough of the Thunder bowling to suggest if the batsman play well and get to a score of near 170 when batting first, they can lead the Thunder to that elusive victory.
Dirk Nannes is incredibly consistent and the leader of their attack. He has been well supported by the economical young paceman Gurinder Sandhu this season.
The addition of all-rounder Tillakaratne Dilshan provides a quality spin option as well as a big-name replacement for the missing Warner and Khawaja at the top of the batting.
Luke Feldmen injured his knee against the Stars and he may be replaced by fellow seamer Chris Tremain, who would probably join Scott Coyte as the Thunder’s other pace options tonight.
These two teams sit on the bottom half of the table because of their poor batting. For that reason, whichever team shows better form with the bat can get away with the points tonight.
This game should be close and for that reason I’ll tip an upset and go with the Thunder to end their losing run.
But for that to happen I’d say Michael Hussey is going to need to play another big innings.