Currently placed seventh in the points table, Brisbane Heat will now face Sydney Sixers in one of their toughest assignments to pick themselves up. The defending champions, the Sixers are currently at the summit of the points table, winning their last four games.
Troubled by injuries and player unavailability, the Heat is going through another horror run this season, with a number of voids in their side. Their batting has suffered the most. AB de Villiers and Tom Banton’s decision to take their name back prior to the tournament to relieve themselves from another bio-bubble extinguished a lot of heat from their batting. They had released Ben Cutting. Now, the only batsman of superstar status in their line-up, Chris Lynn, also suffered a hamstring injury which has put him out for a few games.
The Heat have often found themselves two or three down quite early in their innings. A lot will depend upon Max Bryant, who has shown a sense of responsibility in his batting, but needs to convert his 30s into an innings of bigger significance. They will also be boosted by Joe Denly, the England international, who has joined the squad as Banton’s replacement. Joe Burns is also available after being released from Australia’s Test squad, though his form remains under the radar.
The Heat have still come closer to the finish line in their last three games than they did in their first two. Apart from finding unlikely heroes with the bat lower down the order, they have bowled brilliantly, despite Morne Morkel's unavailability since the beginning.
They have taken 23 wickets in the last three games without conceding in excess of 150. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is back amongst the wickets - a five-wicket haul in the last game - while Jake Wildermuth and Mark Steketee have also contributed reasonably well. The onus will be on the batsmen to back their bowling.
The Sixers have a lot less to worry about, as you would expect with a team on a winning run. It is a team packed with allrounders and even without Jason Holder, who is done with his three-match contract for the season, the Sixers have two allrounders in their ranks - Daniel Christian and Carlos Brathwaite. Moreover, Jake Ball has joined the squad as Holder’s replacement and is certain to make his debut on Saturday.
The Sixers would also like James Vince to be back amongst the runs. His form is the only only missing piece in Sixers’ batting right now which have Josh Philippe and Daniel Hughes amongst the top 10 run-scorers of the tournament thus far. Since his 67 in the tournament opener, Vince has managed only 49 runs in four innings.
Also, the Sixers have played two games at the Carrara Oval so they will be a step ahead of their opponents in terms of what to expect from the conditions.
Sam Heazlett might keep his place as he is the only left-hander in the side and keeps the Sixers’ left-arm spinner, Steve O’Keefe away from the attack as long as he is in the middle. Denly is likely to come in for Simon Milenko. It will be interesting to see if the Heat name Burns in their side. If he does, Tom Cooper might have to make way.
Max Bryant, Sam Heazlett, Joe Denly, Tom Cooper/Joe Burns, James Peirson (c/wk), Jake Wildermuth, Lewis Gregory, James Bazley, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Ball will come in for the departing Holder. The Sixers may consider dropping Ben Manenti for this game. He has not bowled much in the two games the Sixers have played in Carrara Oval - three overs for 36 runs - and was subbed out in one game. Also, Heat’s squad does not have many left-handers. They can also name him in the XI, put him up against the southpaw, Heazlett for one over and then sub him out.
Josh Philippe (wk), Jack Edwards, James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Daniel Christian, Carlos Brathwaite, Jake Ball, Ben Dwarshuis, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Manenti/Gurinder Sandhu