It is number six versus number seven in Match 12 of the Big Bash League (BBL) 2020/21 but a more nuanced look at the points table tells you both sides have played only two games thus far. Daniel Sams took Sydney Thunder over the line against Brisbane Heat while they were staring at their second successive defeat. Perth Scorchers went through a batting meltdown in their tournament opener but revived themselves in their second game. Having posted 158 runs in 17 overs, rain intervened from pushing for a win.
Both the teams have set the stage for exciting possibilities ahead and will resume their campaign after a break in the tournament due to the Australia-India Test.
The Scorchers have been a side which has elevated itself to three BBL titles on the back of brilliant bowling performances. In the previous season, however, their bowling was off the radar. They conceded runs at the third worst economy-rate of the season (8.3) and picked wickets at the second-worst average (27.9). The bowling looked out of sorts even their first game of the season, though, it could be termed as an after effect of a deflated batting performance.
The Scorchers have named both Jason Behrendorff, who missed the last game, and Joel Paris in their squad for this fixture. They have as many as five quicks to pick alongside the allrounder, Aaron Hardie and a spin bowler in Fawad Ahmed. Hoping the rust had shredded, the Scorchers will be keen to hunt down the opposition batsmen.
In terms of batting, they will continue to miss their international stars in Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone. Still, they won’t fret about it after a brilliant batting performance last game. The only chink currently is Josh Inglis’ form. Clearly instructed to go for the leather, he has been dismissed cheaply twice letting others do the repair work. Facing a spin heavy new ball attack from Thunder, he might get his way in to form. Inglis has a strike-rate of 161.6 against spinners in his T20 career. Against pacers, it is 137.1.
Adam Milne is back. The Thunder named him in their squad for this fixture having taken a conservative approach regarding his hamstring injury. He boasts a competent bowling attack which was playing Ben Cutting largely as a batsman - one over each in the two games thus far. The presence of three spinners - Chris Green, Jonathan Cook and Tanveer Sangha - put them in a better position to respond to any unforeseen characteristics of the pitch.
On the batting front, Thunder stay a powerful unit with their top three - Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson. Alex Ross has always been an interesting performer in the league. Ben Cutting brings a fresh flavor and Sams’ form is a huge positive for them.
Ashton Turner has been Scorchers’ best batsman so far. He was fluent amidst a batting collapse against Melbourne Renegades before being run out. Against Melbourne Stars, he injected the side with momentum in the middle-overs, scoring 39 from 17 balls which included five sixes.
However, he will batting in the second half of the innings, a phase Sams has enjoyed thoroughly in his T20 career with the ball - a strike-rate of 11.1 balls per wicket in the later half as compared to 24 in the former. This season, Canberra’s Manuka Oval has favored the batsman early on - a balls-per-dismissal ratio of 24 at a run-rate of 7.5 in the first six overs of the innings, both the highest amongst the three venues.
But later on, it has been the bowlers turn to shine with 20 wickets falling in the last five overs in a matter of six innings. It could be an intriguing contest between the two big forces of their respective sides if they come against each other. It is quite evident in their battles till date as well. In four innings, Sams has dismissed Turner twice. But the right-handed batsman has scored 49 runs at a strike-rate of 204.2
Perth Scorchers: Josh Inglis (wk), Colin Munro, Joe Clarke, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Turner (c), Camron Bancroft, Aaron Hardie, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, Fawad Ahmed, Jason Behrendorff
Sydney Thunder: Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson (c), Alex Ross, Baxter Holt (wk), Ben Cutting, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Adam Milne, Jonathan Cook, Tanveer Sangha