The Sixers should make it five wins from their last five with two seasoned veterans crucial to their success, says Jamie Pacheco...
"The grizzly, somewhat grumpy, highly-experienced all-rounder has already turned one game around single-handedly with the bat and though that was the only really significant score he got, he’s still striking at a barely believable 226."
Brisbane Heat v Sydney Sixers
Saturday January 2, 09:15
TV: live on BT Sport
Another ice cold performance from the Heat
Having won at last two games ago, the Heat had an excellent chance to make it back-to-back wins against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday. But they blew it.
Chasing a straightforward 151 to win, they made a mess of things at the top of the innings losing a load of wickets: numbers 2-4 made just one run between them.
They recovered well thanks to an excellent cameo from James Bazley, who hit 49 off 31 and were in control going into the last over, needing just seven off the final over. Yes, Scott Boland bowled it pretty well but there's no excuse for not getting the job done.
In the end they needed one off the final ball to go to a Super Over and two to win. They got neither, the last delivery resulting in a run out and a loss by a single run.
It's all very typical of a side in disarray, who panic, have poor game management and aren't used to winning. And it's hard to see how things are going to improve.
Sixers flying but Holder departs
I suppose the very best T20 teams win games pretty comfortably. Or as comfortably as it's possible to win games in this format.
But there' something to be said about the champion teams winning a lot of close games. And no side has been better at doing that this season than the Sixers, at least over the past couple of weeks.
Twice they were really up against it, first when playing the Melbourne Stars and then again against the Renegades. On both occasions they got over the line with just one ball to spare, showing they're a side who doesn't know when it's beat and one who can handle the pressure moments.
Sadly for them, they're now without Jason Holder, the hero from that win over the Renegades. He smashed a six to win the game with a delivery to go but returns to the Caribbean now. What an excellent short-term signing he proved to be.
Notts seamer Jake Ball should be available to play after being in quarantine for two weeks and should slot in straight away for Holder.
Impossible to make a case for the Heat
I realise the point of providing tips on a T20 game is mostly to look for opportunities to back the outsider where possible. Or at least that they provide you with an opportunity to back-to-lay the outsider.
But the truth is that the favourites have mostly won in theBash so far this season and this is one of those games where I simply can't make a case for the outsider.
The Sixers, who are 1.75/7 to win this game, are top of the pile, have quality players throughout the whole side, handle the pressure adequately and are well-coached and well-led, in this case by stand-in skipper Daniel Hughes, until Moises Henriques returns. Yes, they're now without Jason Holder but Jake Ball is no slouch and though they'll now have less depth in terms of batting, Ball is arguably a better T20 bowler.
I think I made it pretty clear what I think of the Heat already and given he's injured, there isn't even the 'if Chris Lynn gets going...' safety net to rely on.
If the Heat win, good on them. But we can't back them and the 1.75/7 on the Sixers is a smidgeon too short for a game of T20, even though we've enjoyed success backing favourites already this season.
O'Keefe to keep up the good work
It's a shame that the Sixers' Sean Abbott isn't playing in this match because he's taken an incredible 20 wickets against the Heat over the years including 4/11, 4/40 and most impressively 3/8.
But Steve O'Keefe is and he should go well. He's their joint-top wicket-taker alongside Ben Dwarshius with eight and his economy rate of 7.33 shows he's not just taking wickets while being smashed around, he's obviously bowling beautifully at the moment.
The fact he's a bigger price at 10/3 than Dwarshius at 3/1 is the first reason why we like him but there's also the fact that the Heat aren't great players of spin.
Can Dan be the man (of the match)?
It's hard to pick just the one stand-out player from the Sixers this season so far with Josh Philippe, Dan Hughes, Holder, O'Keefe and Dwarshius all putting in fine performances at one stage or another but if I had to pick just the one, it would be Dan Christian.
The grizzly, somewhat grumpy, highly-experienced all-rounder has already turned one game around single-handedly with the bat and though that was the only really significant score he got, he's still striking at a barely believable 226.
Add to the equation six wickets so far in the tournament and here's a man with two very strong strings to his bow. Like the best all-rounders, he'll give you two bites of the cherry because he can make a real impact with either bat or ball and 14/1 will do me just fine on him for man-of-the-match
BIG BASH 2020-21 P AND L
Points Staked: 13pts
Points Returned: 20.56
P and L: +7.56