The odds suggest a nip and tuck game between the Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers in this T20 cricket Big Bash match (10am GMT, Sunday).
The Scorchers may have struggled in the Champions League T20 back in October but they remain one of the most dangerous sides in Australian limited overs cricket and are attractive at 15/2 (Paddy Power) to lift the Big Bash Trophy. Meanwhile, the Strikers are best at 7/1 (BetVictor) for the title and those odds tell you the bookies think there is little to choose between the teams.
It’s debatable as to how much influence home advantage has in the shortest form of the game but the Scorchers are accustomed to the harder and bouncier pitches in Perth and that familiarity may be enough to separate the sides. Certainly when you look at them on paper, there is little to choose between the two.
The Scorchers are a stronger batting side than they were in South Africa thanks to the inclusion of prolific batsmen Mike Hussey. National calls will take Hussey away from the side for much of this tournament but if he takes his place in the line up on Sunday, he will be a key wicket for the Strikers to target.
Hussey aside, the Scorchers were criticised at the Champions League for fielding an ageing side led by veteran all-rounder Marcus North who retains the captaincy for the Big Bash. North is joined by Simon Katich and Herschelle Gibbs and you certainly can’t accuse this Perth side of lacking experience.
As for the Strikers, their batting order doesn’t look as strong but it does include the destructive Phillip Hughes, a one day specialist who performed well in England during the Friend’s life T20 competition. Hughes is an undoubted match winner but will he have enough support from those around him as the Big Bash moves forward?
There are no such concerns over the Strikers bowling however and this looks to be one of the strongest attacks in the whole of the competition. Adelaide are skippered by the South African spinner Johan Botha and he will be joined by Saeed Ajmal and Nathan Lyon to form a world class slow bowling line up.
The Strikers are further strengthened by paceman Shaun Tait and seamer Andrew McDonald and this powerful attack will be the key to their side’s success in this opening match.
Bowling is an issue for the Scorchers however who have been robbed of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Marsh due to injury. The two men would have been set to open the bowling and their combined absence will be a major setback.
So the Scorchers dominate in the batting while the Strikers have the stronger bowling line up going into this game. Keeping the runs down could be key in a match where taking wickets isn’t always a priority and Adelaide have every chance of upsetting those odds and starting their campaign with a win.
This Preview’s Betting Tip: Bet on Adelaide Strikers to win at 5/4 with Stan James.