Both the Lions and the Sydney Sixers are unbeaten in the T20 cricket Champions League and a victory here will cement a semi-final place for one side (12.30pm BST, Thursday).
The Lions and the Sixers were equally impressive as they brushed aside Yorkshire and Chennai respectively and this could be one of the best games of the tournament so far.
Away from the IPL teams, many were looking to the Sixers as the team most likely to lift the trophy this year. At the top of the order they held true limited overs quality in Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Michael Lumb, while the bulk of the team was made up by some of the country’s most promising young cricketers.
There will, however, be a concern amongst the Sydney camp that all-rounder Watson is returning home after this tournament and he will undoubtedly be a big loss. However, the emphatic win over Yorkshire Carnegie was achieved without much of a contribution from their star man and the Sixers should have enough quality to win more games without Watson in their line up as this competition progresses.
For the Lions, Neil McKenzie was expected to be the key man and he will have a major part to play in this contest. The veteran batsman went to the top of the tournament run scoring charts after the win over Chennai and the Sixers will definitely be targeting his wicket as their main priority.
The Lions aren’t a one-man team however and there is some promising young South African talent in this batting line-up. In the win over India, Quinton de Kock made a half century to support McKenzie while the most recent win against Chennai was built around a score of 64 from Gulam Bodi.
Sydney’s young pace attack will need to target the experienced players but not underestimate the capabilities of the rest of the Lions’ side.
While Watson could still be key to this contest, Michael Lumb has shown here why he remains part of England’s T20 set-up. His unbeaten knock of 43 against Yorkshire guided his team safely home and the Nottinghamshire left hander seems ideally suited to the pace of these South African pitches.
Skipper Haddin will also need to maintain his form in this match while Moises Henriques will be another important player with both bat and ball.
The respective bowling attacks are very evenly matched. Although Sydney contain a crop of young Australian internationals such as Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who shared five wickets in the Yorkshire win.
The Lions also contain some promise in the shape of Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso but without the benefit of international experience behind them, the Sixers definitely have an edge in the bowling department which could ultimately decide this contest.
The game itself should prove to be a closer affair than these odds are suggesting but with greater all-round quality, the Sixers should take another four points with a narrow win.
- Betting Tip: Sydney Sixers to win at 4/6 with Ladbrokes.