Two teams with a contrasting couple of games are all set to face off. Sydney Sixers registered a record-breaking win in their second game against Melbourne Renegades, while they looked scratchy during their 16-run loss in their first against Hobart Hurricanes. Adelaide Strikers too were well under-par in their season opener against Hobart, which they lost by 11 runs but bounced back incredibly well in their next game against the same opposition, clinching victory by a five-wicket margin.
With big wins under their belt, Sixers and Stars go head-to-head in what promises to be yet another cracking encounter in the BBL. While the Sixers have five points from two matches, the Strikers have four points so far. With four more points at stake, both teams will go all guns blazing to get maximum points, but more importantly, build on their respective victories.
The Strikers in their two matches so far have not taken full advantage of the first four overs, having scored at a run-rate of just 5.4. Moreover, they have lost a wicket every 10.8 runs, 12 deliveries apart – all of which are the worst in the competition so far. The Sixers in the same phase have scored at a far better 7.1.
On the bowling front in the first four, the Strikers and the Sixers have been the two best teams with economy rates of six and five respectively.
Alex Carey’s return to the side from his Australia A duties was a huge boost for the Strikers in their second game, in which he scored 55 off 40, but more importantly put on 107 with Jake Weatherald (68*) to help the Strikers register their maiden win. Only the combination of Matthew Wade-D’Arcy Short (1,284) have scored more runs together than Carey-Weatherald (963). The Strikers batsmen, therefore, could become just the second pair to score 1,000 runs together in BBL history.
The other batsmen will have to step up in the upcoming games, having not performed admirably thus far. Better contributions from the likes of Phillip Salt, Matt Renshaw and Jonathan Wells will surely see Adelaide be in a more comfortable position.
Rashid Khan’s form
Rashid has picked up just five wickets from his previous six innings in T20s, which stretches back to his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. Someone who boasts of an economy rate of just over six and a wicket every 16.7 balls in the shortest format, has conceded at over eight an over in this edition of the BBL so far striking once every 24 balls. It could be further toil for Rashid at the Bellerive Oval as leg-spinners have picked up just 10.71% of the wickets at this venue in T20s this year.
However, if there is anyone who can turn it around, it’s Rashid. While his form has not taken an alarming dip by any stretch of imagination, it would certainly behoove the Strikers if he could pick up more wickets and if not, at least build pressure by keeping his end tight.
Sydney Sixers seem to have all their bases covered, which was overwhelmingly clear in their whooping 145-run win over Melbourne Renegades. Jake Ball and Jason Holder will join the squad after Christmas, making the team even stronger. The Sixers still have Jackson Bird and Lloyd Pope on the bench, if and when required.
After a below-par IPL, Joshua Philippe’s return to form was encouraging and he could once again prove to be the difference in this line-up. As far as their bowling is concerned, they seem to have come to the party knowing that they have 200-plus to defend against the Renegades, but they will surely be tested against Strikers’ top-order consisting of Salt, Weatherald, Carey and Renshaw.
Ben Dwarshuis deserves a special mention here. He, not only has a terrific record against the Strikers, having picked up 13 wickets at 14.8, he has been an asset to the Sixers even this season so far having picked up seven wickets from two matches and could once again prove to be a handful, given the inability of batsmen to cope with his pace and the bounce generated by his height.
There does not seem to be any reason for either team to make changes to their XI.
Adelaide Strikers: Philip Salt, Jake Weatherald , Matt Renshaw, Alex Carey (c & wk), Jonathan Wells, Ryan Gibson, Rashid Khan, Daniel Worrall, Peter Siddle, Wes Agar, Matthew Short, Danny Briggs
Sydney Sixers: Josh Philippe (wk), Jack Edwards, James Vince, Daniel Hughes (c), Jordan Silk, Daniel Christian, Carlos Brathwaite, Ben Dwarshuis, Steve OKeefe, Ben Manenti, Gurinder Sandhu
Match: Sydney Sixers vs Adelaide Strikers, BBL 2020-21, Match 11
Where: Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Date: Sunday, December 20
Time: 1:45 PM IST