Two unfancied teams contest Friday's final and key batters on both sides will decide the ultimate fate of Big Bash 3, according to Matt Harris
Perth Scorchers vs Hobart Hurricanes
Friday February 7, 08:45 GMT
Live on Sky Sports 2
Only two centuries have been scored in this tournament and both have come from the bat of Perth's Craig Simmons. The burly left hander bludgeoned the fastest ton in the history of the competition before making a match winning 112 in the semi-final and is now homing in on Chris Gayle's record for the most sixes in a Big Bash season.
It's clear that Simmons is a key wicket although low, single figure scores have punctuated his twin hundreds. If the opener fails, the reliable Simon Katich and Adam Voges should get the Scorchers up to a 150+ total but if the double centurion stays at the crease for ten overs or more, he can comfortably take the game away from the Hurricanes.
In the bowling department, Alfonso Thomas will be critical at the death while Hobart may feel they can target 43-year-old Brad Hogg who came close to losing the game during Wednesday's Duckworth Lewis affected semi. In reality however, this game is all about the batters.
Simmons' second century might have helped him to take the player of the series award, had it not previously been handed to Hobart's Ben Dunk. At 26, Dunk is another player to emerge from relative obscurity to hunt down a lucrative IPL contract and he has a major role to play in this final.
The opener has a 96 to his name this season with an average at just under 50 and, while he isn't as explosive as Simmons, he can still accumulate quickly and win this game on his own. Like the Scorchers, Hobart have dependable batters such as George Bailey, Tim Paine and Travis Birt but another big score from Dunk will make it easier for the visitors.
Venue and Conditions
Four previous group matches at the WACA have produced an average first innings score of 157 and despite Perth's reputation for producing fast surfaces, this has been a relatively low scoring ground. However, Simmons' first ton of the tournament took Perth above the 200 mark against Brisbane and with dangerous hitters on both teams, that may have to be a minimum target for the side taking first knock.
The forecast is for unbroken sunshine with temperatures peaking above 30 degrees Celsius so we shouldn't see any of the rain that spoiled Wednesday's second semi-final.
It isn't all about Simmons and Dunk but a major knock from either man could decide the destiny of the trophy and that's what makes this so tough to call. Scorchers are marginal favourites at 1.9420/21 with the Hurricanes as the outside bet at 2.0421/20.
Both have been losing finalists in the past, making them determined to claim their first trophy and while it might be easier to bet on the coin toss, I slightly favour Hobart because they have greater strength in batting depth if their star turn - Ben Dunk - were to fail.
I've 'bigged up' the big figure of Craig Simmons but he is only the second favourite at 4.47/2. That's because he has the capacity to get either 0 or 100 with not much in between, leaving the more consistent Simon Katich as the clear favourite at 3.814/5.
Other alternatives include Adam Voges at 5.79/2 and Mitchell Marsh at 5.39/2 but the choice is between the consistent Katich or the dangerous but unreliable Simmons. My conservative stake is with skipper Katich.
Ben Dunk is a far more solid figure at the top of the order and can usually be relied upon to get the Hurricanes off to a start, even if he doesn't go on to make a big score himself. The 26-year-old is therefore a worthy favourite at around 4.03/1.
If Dunk fails, Paine at 4.3100/30 and Birt at 6.25/1 are other options but George Bailey's form in the recent ODIs would make him a better pick at 4.216/5. Overall, I'm backing Dunk to make the difference in this final.