The Scorchers host the Hurricanes in their brand new stadium and it's their Test opener and returning all-rounder who can prove the difference for Perth en route to yet another BBL final, says Jamie Pacheco.
"Assuming the wicket doesn’t prove to be a lot trickier than one would expect (it’s never been used in an official match before), this could be an excellent chance for Bancroft get another fifty here. At first wicket down he should get enough time at the crease to be able to raise his bat if he sticks around and there are few more porous attacks in the BBL than this one."
Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes
Thursday February 1, 08:40 GMT
Live on BT Sport
One Marsh, maybe two
Perth have so far done what Perth do best. They've bowled extremely well when fielding first to restrict their opponents to totals they'd fancy themselves to chase.
When batting first they've always posted something that's at least a par score and very often a bit better, before putting pressure on their opponents with tight bowling, regular wickets and good fielding. Proof of that is that they've won every match when batting first.
Bad news, good news. They've lost Ashton Agar to a T20 call-up for Australia. That's the problem with performing too well in the Big Bash- you have to go and play for your country as a result! He's been excellent this season and is second in the Scorchers' stats table for both best batting average (almost 50) and wickets taken (eight). He picked up back-to-back man-of-the-match awards earlier on the campaign. With Agar's absence, they lose their best spinner, a fearless lower-order hitter and an excellent boundary-rider. James Muirhead, normally a grade cricketer, but who's played for Perth twice already this season, could get a game. But I doubt it.
They'll probably go with the usual four-pace attack and... which brings us to the first part of good news... bring in Mitchell Marsh for his first game of the season as a direct replacement for Agar. He's not super-quick but he's accurate and has some good variations.
Adam Voges can bowl a couple of overs if it's turning.
Mitch's brother Shaun could also get a game at the top of the order if the Australian selectors deem him fit enough to feature. That would be a huge fillip for Perth, who have had a few issues at the top of the order. Understandable given Michael Klinger's off-field worries.
The Mills dilemma
And speaking of playing well, D'Arcy Short's mountain of runs have resulted in a call-up of his own. The BBL's top scorer this season who broke all sorts of records with his hard-hitting at the top of the order has to report for international duty and, whereas he'll be chuffed about that, there may be a part of him that wishes he was about around to finish the job he started for the Hurricanes. Hobart certainly do.
It would be a morale-sapping move for the man if they dropped Sussex's Tymal Mills after leaking runs all over the shop with his fast yet erratic bowling, but they need to do what's best for the team. The problem though, is that anyone who might come in for him hasn't bowled any more than seven overs so far this season. They'll probably just hope that he finally comes good when it most matters and play him.
Elsewhere, it's time for the trio of Ex-Aussie players- George Bailey, Matthew Wade and Dan Christian- to step up. None of them has played to the standard you'd expect of such experienced players.
If this were at Perth's usual ground - The WACA - this would be home-banker material at [1.64]. But it's not. The powers-that-be decided the semi-final was the time to give the Optus Stadium (also in Perth) its first taste of BBL action. So whereas it's a home game and Perth will benefit from the support of what is probably the most raucous set of BBL home fans, the players may question whether this was really the time to be cutting ribbons rather than making sure they have the best possible chance of making the final.
Still, they're a far better side in just about every department and are up against a side who - Jofra Archer aside - have been pretty ordinary with the ball. And a side who are missing the batsman who has scored more than twice as many runs as anyone else in their team.
Cameron Bancroft, the 'victim' of Jonny Bairstow's headbutt, has been excellent since being released from Test duty. Batting at three whilst also keeping wicket, he's scored 75 not out, 15, 54 and 49. His average is 64 and he's been striking at a very healthy 133.
Assuming the wicket doesn't prove to be a lot trickier than one would expect (it's never been used in an official match before), this could be an excellent chance to get another fifty here. At first wicket down he should get enough time at the crease to be able to raise his bat if he sticks around and there are few more porous attacks in the BBL than this one.
Unless there's an upset in the match winner you'd think the man-of-the-match will come from Perth. And few will have better chances of grabbing it than Mitchell Marsh. Yes, it's his first game of the season for Perth but he hasn't exactly been bumming around watching the Australian version of 'I'm a Celebrity'. Well, maybe he has been watching it, but only if it was between taking a break from playing England. He featured in both the Tests and ODIs so will be as match-sharp as anyone, not to mention that he's been facing players of a far higher standard over the past two months than what he will here.
He'll almost certainly get four overs with the ball. And Adam Voges doesn't like batting himself too high these days and will probably prefer to hold himself and Andrew Turner back, relying on the international star to show his class for a longer time at the crease, so he'll probably bat at 4 or 5. You get two bites of the cherry with him and he presents value as the joint-fourth favourite in this market at 9/1.
Staked: 14 pts
Returned: 12.55 pts
P and L: -1.45