Big Bash T20 Betting: Prospects at the half-way stage

England's Luke Wright has been in stunning form for the Melbourne Stars at the start of the Big Bash

With the Big Bash group stages Down Under approaching the half-way stage, Matt Harris takes a look at the latest odds and he can't see beyond the Stars...

"Posting big totals has been key to early successes and the Star’s top order of White, Luke Wright, Brad Hodge and David Hussey are the best in the tournament right now."

Melbourne Stars 3.185/40

Australia's Premier T20 competition is reaching the half way stage in the groups and many of the opening matches are going with form. Pre-tournament favourites the Melbourne Stars were the only franchise left with a 100% record after three matches and it's no surprise to see Cameron White's team strengthen that grip on the betting with a current price of 3.185/40.

Posting big totals has been key to early successes and the Star's top order of White, Luke Wright, Brad Hodge and David Hussey are the best in the tournament right now. They've been so effective that we've barely even seen Glenn Maxwell - Mumbai Indians' $1m investment.

With Shane Warne out of the side, the bowling attack actually looks more effective as a unit and the Stars are surely guaranteed a place in the knockouts.

Adelaide Strikers 5.95/1

Second favourites at 5.95/1 are the Adelaide Strikers who brought in Alex Hales from Melbourne Renegades prior to the start of the competition. Along with Phil Hughes and Michael Klinger, England T20 opener Hales forms the most destructive top three in the tournament and the Strikers are the side most likely to test the Stars as the Big Bash develops.

Shaun Tait spearheads a useful Strikers bowling attack and although the side has lost its influential captain Johan Botha to injury, Bangladesh's Shakib Al-Hasan is a more than adequate replacement.
A place in the semis is certain and depending on the draw for those games, Adelaide should go on to make the final.

Hobart Hurricanes 7.06/1

2013's beaten finalists Hobart Hurricanes have just three points from four matches, thanks to one win and a no-result from a rain affected game against the Strikers. The Hurricanes are at 76/1 but seem to have affected their chances by changing the opening pair of Tim Paine and Travis Birt who did so much to get them to the final last year.

In Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus they have an ageing bowling attach that is starting to lose its penetration and with three wins needed from four in order to progress, Hobart should be eliminated at the end of the group phase.

Sydney Sixers (8.4)

With the Strikers and the Stars almost certain to go through, there are two further semi-final slots up for grabs and the Sixers are one of three teams currently locked on four points. The Sydney franchise won the 2012 version of the Big Bash and went on to claim the Champions League in the same year but since then have underachieved in T20 cricket.

Mitchell Starc was the leading wicket taker in that Champions League win and his absence is being felt in a weakened bowling side. However Michael Lumb, who scored the most runs in that tournament is hitting form and is key to the Sixers' progression.

They've won the Big Bash before and that fact alone could make Sydney Sixers a great value punt at 8.415/2 and they should have enough to take the three from five that will take them into the knockouts.

Brisbane Heat (9.8)

Defending Champions Brisbane Heat are struggling to make the semis and their win odds have drifted to 9.89/1 as a result. Few would argue that James Hopes' side were surprise winners in 2013 but their weaknesses have been exposed to leave them with just one win from their opening four matches.

The batting looks strong with Craig Kieswetter joining Joe Burns, Dan Christian and the impressive Chris Lynn but the Heat will have to win at least three of their remaining four games to qualify and that feat looks beyond them right now.

Perth Scorchers (10.0)

The Scorchers completed a routine win over Sydney Thunder to join two other sides on four points and a greater net run rate sees them currently occupying the last qualifying place. Perth's strength lies in their attack and in Yasir Arafat and Alfonso Thomas, they have two of the best death bowlers in world cricket.

Arafat in particular has been vital in their opening wins but it's an ageing side that could fade as the tournament progresses. 42 year old Brad Hogg is one of several players over the age of thirty and with a tough run in, the Scorchers look set to finish in fifth.

Melbourne Renegades 11.010/1

Aaron Finch's Renegades recovered from a slow start to complete the trio of teams on four points and they look well positioned to make the semis. However, the side has relied too heavily on Finch and Jos Buttler for their runs and with Buttler set to join up with England's one day squad, the Renegades look increasingly like a one man batting band.

The bowling looks dangerous with James Pattinson returning to fitness and Muttiah Muralitharan showing signs of his bamboozling best but the middle order falls away too often to make this squad real contenders for the outright win.

Sydney Thunder 55.054/1

They finished without a win or a single point in 2013 but it had all looked so positive for the Thunder when the tournament began. Mike Hussey crossed over from Perth to join a strong batting line up featuring Eoin Morgan, Usman Khawaja and Tillakaratne Dilshan so surely that long, winless streak would end.

Four games into the competition and Hussey's new side have now extended that losing run to over 740 days. They need to win all four games and hope for a mathematical miracle to qualify and if you're optimistic enough to believe that will happen, odds of 5554/1 await.

As we saw when Brisbane Heat won in 2013, T20 cricket is all about how you perform on the day and the lottery element can still have a say in the outcome. The Melbourne Stars fell at the semi final stage 12 months ago but with so much strength in depth, they should finally justify their billing as perennial pre-tournament favourites.

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