Ed Hawkins previews Wednesday's Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers showdown in the Big Bash at the Gabba and finds top-bat value...
"Salt took a liking to the Heat bowlers last season, smashing 67 from 38 balls. It was an innings which made him realise he could cut it in the tournament."
Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers
Wednesday 22 December 08.15
TV: live on BT Sport
Heat wilting already
Brisbane Heat are bottom of the pile after two games and two losses. They could stay there as they are by far the weakest team in a competitive league.
Mujeeb ur Rahman, the Afghan spinner, who has overcome a Covid diagnosis, will play his second match. Jack Wildermuth and Mark Steketee rejoin the ranks after playing for Australia A.
Their issue is in the field, as it always has been. They failed to defend 178 against Sydney Thunder and they were completely outclassed in every discipline by the Stars. Fines for Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence for breaking bubble rules also suggest Heat are in for another tepid term.
Possible XI Bryant, Heazlett, Lynn, Lawrence, Cooper, Wildermuth, Peirson, Steketee, Kuhnemann, Laughlin, Mujeeb
Strikers are not in great shape, either. They have one win from three games and they suffered a chastening defeat by Sydney Sixers last time out.
Dan Christian recorded the fastest 50 in Bash history against their shell-shocked attack but even so a target of 178 hardly seemed insurmountable. They started well with Phil Salt finding his range before a horrible collapse - three wickets for 14 - exposed a weak middle order.
Alex Carey has returned to the XI but they look short of middle-order nous to mount a top-five assault this season. Much depends on the form of Rashid Khan, Peter Siddle and Dan Worrall with the ball it seems.
Possible XI Salt, Weatherald, Renshaw, Carey, Wells, Short, Scott, Rashid, Worrall, Siddle, Agar
The Gabba has the second-highest first-innings average score in the last five tournaments at 164, behind the Bellerive at Hobart. And 58% of teams batting first bust the 160 mark. There is no discernible toss bias to get excited about. This is one to go long at the death, expecting leaky attacks to suffer. Book long prices for 40 or more in the last three of the first innings. We also note Sportsbook's 5/4 that both teams score 140 or more and Strikers win. No rain is forecast.
The Heat are 2.166/5 with Strikers 1.804/5. Although Heat are a team we have loved to hate, that strong feeling only really came about because they were hugely overrated by the layers. Not so this year.
So, this could represent one of the few chances to bet them. Strikers, as discussed in our team guide, are expected to have problems this season, too.
We will try to be smart, however, and wait for the toss. Although there is nothing to go on ground form, both outfits prefer to bat first. Or rather, they hate chasing. There are only three wins between Heat (two) and Strikers from 11 attempts last season. Strikers' two defeats this term have come in a chase. Heat could well flip the market if they can bat first.
Phil Salt took a liking to the Heat bowlers last season, smashing 67 from 38 balls. It was an innings which made him realise he could cut it in the tournament. Price-boosted to 3/1 for top Strikers bat, he gives us a 2.8% edge on implied probability on win rate.
Mujeeb gives us a greater edge at 7/2 for top Heat bowler. He should be closer to 11/4. We note that Ben Manenti and Steve O'Keefe, both spinners, tied down Strikers. However, Mujeeb is yet to take a wicket against Strikers in three matches as they have opted to see him off.
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. To include year end COB Best Bets