Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Sixers
Thursday 10 December 08.15
TV: live on BT Sport
Hurricanes will get stronger
Hobart Hurricanes look well-equipped to mount a challenge for their first title - eventually. When Dawid Malan arrives, Sandeep Lamichhane recovers from Covid and Matthew Wade returns for the denouement, they could go close. Until then they have enough in reserve to get into the top five.
Up front with the bat they will be led by dangerous D'Arcy Short, trying a new partnership with Will Jacks. Colin Ingram and Will Handscomb in the middle order are excellent additions.
There is no Jofra Acher this year but that's ok. James Faulkner and Nathan Ellis have two of the best strike rates around in the last couple of years. Veteran Johan Botha adds late-order nous and useful spin overs.
Probable XI Jacks, Short, McDermott, Ingram, Handscomb, Wright, Faulkner, Botha, Ellis, Meredith, Boland
Sixers to go well
Sixers are the champions. And their eventual best XI - which would include Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott and Nathan Lyon - suggests they could be tough to stop becoming only the second team to claim back-to-back titles. They remain more than competitive, though.
Josh Philippe had a breakout season last year and could go close as top tournament runscorer. He leads a batting unit which can do it all with James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaite offering great depth. The loss of Tom Curran is a blow, though. The England all-rounder has pulled out due to bubble strife.
Ben Dwarshius will lead the attack while Brathwaite may have to bowl at the death. It's not a speciality for him so keep that in mind.
Possible XI Philippe, Hughes, Vince, Avendano, Henriques, Christian, Brathwaite, O'Keefe, Dwarshius, Sandhu, Pope
It's always wise to expect runs at the Bellerive Oval. On four-year data 66% of sides batting first bust 160. The average is just shy of 165. Last year's scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second) read: 197-1/185-1/175-1/212-1/147-2. We were tempted by Sportsbook 5/6 that both teams bust 160 but that has won at a rate of seven in the last 14. We might be able to get a similar price on the 20 overs runs line at around 162.5. We should also bear in mind that we expect Hobart to score well at the death with Brathwaite's economy rate suggesting more than ten an over is possible. There is no rain forecast.
There seems a clear and obvious trade for this one - but we are reliant on the toss. Hobart to bat first should give us room to green up on both sides.
Hobart have a terrific record of putting teams under pressure batting first and the 1.9210/11 could be significantly shorter at the break.
Although we rate Sixers, their depleted attack could be in danger here. Better bowling units than this one have been put to the sword and they are going to have to perform very well not to be looking at a big chase.
The side batting first dominated last season but that is out of step with four-year data which shows more than 60% of matches won by the side chasing.
Short had three wins in nine on the top Hurricanes bat market last term. That was down on the previous two years when he had a win rate of 44%. Still, Sportsbook have price-boosted him to 12/5 (29%) and that gives us a sizeable chunk to work with. With no Wade, he has less to beat. He also matches up superbly against Sixers, averaging 50.