Ed Hawkins casts his eye over the race for the semi-finals and outright market as bowling aces Scorchers and Strikers look on
"Keeping things tight in the field is an art which requires all eleven men to be precise in implementing carefully detailed plans. Anyone can hit a six"
By the time the weekend is out, the third and fourth qualifying spots for the Big Bash semi-finals will be taken. Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers, Nos 1 and 2 in the ladder, are there. Two from Melbourne Renegades, Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat will join them.
The equation is pretty simple for the Renegades and Hurricanes. Win their matches against Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars respectively and they are there. For the renegades it will be only the second time they have got to the last four. Hobart were runners-up in 2014.
The Heat, who welcome back Chris Lynn, look out of it in seventh. But they could finish as high as third. They must beat Renegades to stand any chance of going through.
If the Stars defeat the Hurricanes, Heat will need to beat the Renegades by enough to overcome Hobart's net run rate to move into the top four. If the Hurricanes defeat the Stars, then Heat's only chance will be to leapfrog the Renegades. To do this Heat will need to bat first and win by a margin of 42 runs or better or bat second and chase down the Renegades total in the 15th over.
Regardless of what they do, punters can expect fury from the flashing blades of Brendon McCullum and Lynn like never before.
Betfair Sportsbook, therefore, could see plenty of business for their runs-rated McCullum and Lynn markets. For example, Lynn is 910/1000 for 2.5 fours or more. Lynn hits a boundary every 3.7 balls inside the powerplay so he won't have to bat for long. He is 4/7 to hit a six.
McCullum is 20/23 to hit 2.5 or more fours and 8/13 to hit at least one six. McCullum busts the ropes every 3.5 balls when the field is up and every 4.5 balls when it isn't.
The Scorchers and Strikers may look on with amusement at the reckless dash for the line by a Heat team which has prized brawn over brain. The pair have once again proven that although it is batsmen who clear the ropes and grab the headlines, it is bowlers who actually win T20 tournaments.
There has never been a better bowling side than Perth in the format and after a record of seven wins and only two defeats, they have maintained their status as the best team there has been in franchise cricket.
They are [2.8] to win a fourth title in five years. Following a victory over the Strikers on Thursday, which secured them the No 1 finish, they will host the final at the new 60,000 Optus Stadium in Perth.
The Strikers are [4.9]. And we would expect these two to meet again in the final chiefly because no other side can bowl as well as these two. Keeping things tight in the field is an art which requires all eleven men to be precise in implementing carefully detailed plans. Anyone can hit a six.
Still, the Strikers could be up against it to win their first title. At the moment, Rashid Khan, who has been their best performer with the ball, is scheduled to be playing for Afghanistan in Sharjah the day after the final.
We're not saying Strikers are a one-man team but Rashid's economy rate of 5.52 beggars belief. On average, he saves them eight runs for every four overs bowled.
No doubt the Strikers will be wrangling as we speak to get Rashid released from international duty. The man himself has apparently hinted that he could remain with Strikers. Until it is confirmed that he stays, it's best not to bet them for glory.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l