Game 17: Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes – The Furnace, Perth

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The KFC Big Bash League returns to the Western Australian Capital, where the crowd favourites of the west, the Perth Scorchers, will host the team from the island state, the Hobart Hurricanes.

The Scorchers were super impressive in their hard-fought win over the Mike Hussey-led Sydney Thunder last Friday night, with Simon Katich and Mitch Marsh steering the side home with a crucial fourth-wicket partnership.

That match was played in front of a record crowd for a BBL game at ‘The Furnace’ of 18,718 fans, and in another must-win game, that record could be topped again.

Perth allrounder Nathan Coulter-Nile returns to the BBL having missed the six-wicket victory over the Thunder while on duty with the Australian Test team at the SCG. He replaces Ryan Duffield in the squad.

Hobart have maintained an unchanged squad for the fourth consecutive match of BBL|03, and the side will be desperate to atone from the disappointing loss to the Melbourne Renegades in Hobart on New Year’s Day.

The Hurricanes are yet to secure a competition point in 2014, and remain in the bottom three of the table, above Brisbane and the winless Sydney Thunder.

Key battle: Yasir Arafat v Owais Shah
The two overseas pros shape as crucial cogs in the wheels of their respective teams, with their abundant T20 experience from all around the world and at international level providing the platform their younger teammates can aspire to.

And their younger teammates should take in every ball should they come face-to-face, where they’ll see the brilliance of Shah’s ability to keep the scoreboard ticking, up against the subtlety of Yasir’s changes of pace and length.

Dark horse: Travis Birt
This is the clash Travis Birt has probably had pencilled in for some time. The former Tasmanian and Western Australian player still lives in Perth, but has turned out in the purple for his former home in all three seasons of the BBL.

Moreover, with a somewhat disappointing return so far in BBL|03, Birt would be feeling like he has plenty to prove to both sides in this match.

As good a hitter as there is going around, no ground in Australia can contain Birt if he’s seeing them well.

Last time
January 1, 2013 at Blundstone Arena: One of Hobart’s better performances of BBL|02, where they fairly comfortably chased down Perth’s target of 153, after the Scorchers won the toss and batted first on a chilly Bellerive evening on New Year’s Day last year.

After Ben Laughlin took the key wickets of Marcus North, Adam Voges and Katich to kill the Scorchers’ momentum, Hurricanes’ bats Tim Paine and Ricky Ponting added 90 for the second wicket inside 12 overs.

Paine (74*) and skipper George Bailey (19*) then guided Hobart home with nine balls to spare and six wickets in hand.

Teams
Scorchers: Simon Katich (c), Yasir Arafat, Michael Beer, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Brad Hogg, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Alfonso Thomas, Ashton Turner, Craig Simmons, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman.

Hurricanes: Tim Paine (c), Travis Birt, Aiden Blizzard, Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Xavier Doherty, Ben Dunk, Evan Gulbis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Shoaib Malik, Owais Shah, Jon Wells

Facts and figures
He hasn’t quite been getting the same BBL headlines as some of his more fancied opponents, but Scorchers’ skipper Simon Katich quietly sits fifth on the BBL runs tally this summer, with 150 runs at 37.5, and his 75 last start his highest score.

Mitch Marsh – who finished 34* last Friday night – sneaks into the top ten, too, with 120 runs at 60.0.

Hobart, perhaps tellingly, don’t have a player in the top ten BBL|03 lists for runs scored, wickets taken, or catches held.

They desperately need some of their big guns to fire individually, as much as the team needs the win.

Perth comes into this match with two entries in the best bowling figures of BBL|03: Yasir Arafat’s 3/15 against the Renegades on Boxing Day evening, and Brad Hogg’s 3/21 against Brisbane before Christmas.

Hobart’s Ben Laughlin also features, with his 3/16 against the Renegades on New Year’s Day.

Broadcast
From 4:40 pm local time, 7:40pm AEDT on Channel Ten, and on Fairfax Radio Network.

Twitter: #BBL03

This preview was first published on the Big Bash League website under a new arrangement between The Roar and the BBL. Read the original article here.

Brett McKay is a former non-tackling scrumhalf and not-quite-first-grade middle order stalwart. A rugby and cricket expert for The Roar since July 2009, Brett has written for Inside Rugby and Cricket Australia, and is also PLAY Canberra's rugby correspondent. He tweets from @BMcSport
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