Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Stars
Wednesday 16 December 08.15
Live on BT Sport
Perth Scorchers, the well-fancied second favourites for glory, got their fingers burnt in their opener when suffering a chastening defeat by Melbourne Renegades.
Batting first they could manage only 130 as Josh Lalor wreaked havoc. It did expose some imbalance in the Perth XI. Cameron Bancroft is not worth a spot at No 6 while Jhye Richardson at No 8 is a place too high. When Liam Livingstone becomes available they should look in decent shape. They also await availability on Ashton Agar, who will play a key role as an all-rounder.
There is nowt wrong with the bowling line-up and it has the potential to be the best in the tournament, although defending 130 was never going to be on the cards.
Possible XI Inglis, Munro, Clarke, M Marsh, Turner, Bancroft, Hardie, Richardson, Tye, Behrendorff, Fawad
Stars shining bright
Stars have picked up from where they left last year as far as group stage form goes. It is two wins from two as they have justified pre-season tournament favourite tags. They thumped whipping boys Brisbane Heat by seven wickets and then despatched Sydney Thunder by 22 runs.
It has not all been plain-sailing, though. An injury to pacer Dilbar Hussain means they will be a key player down for possibly the rest of the tournament. If fit, Nathan Coulter-Nile should come in.
A front six, including Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell, looks very strong indeed and Perth will have to be at their best to contain them.
Possible XI Stoinis, Fletcher, Maxwell, Cartwright, Dunk, Larkin, Coulter-Nile, Hinchcliffe, Zampa, Hatcher, Stanlake
There have been only four men's Big Bash matches at Aurora Stadium, Launceston dating back to 2017. Here are the first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first): 186-1/169-2/107-2/166-1. It was Perth who were rolled for 107 and six of that team survive. There have been nine matches in the women's Bash. In total, runmaking has looked tough with an average score of just 120.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast is poor with a 70% chance of rain. So we must be aware of overs being reduced. That puts the kybosh on going low on innings runs as the market will open with one eye on the sky.
Scorchers hot defending
Perth Scorchers are significant outsiders for this one at 2.265/4 with the Stars 1.784/5. We have the Scorchers slightly shorter.
Still, we will wait for the toss. Perth have had issues chasing targets and they come up against a team who were masters last year at defending a total. When under the pressure in a chase of their own, Stars are not as clinical and the Perth attack really should be capable of putting them under strain.
All eyes on Stoinis and Maxwell for top Stars bat. Between them, they accounted for 66.6% of wins in the last two years. Stoinis has an outright win already and a Maxwell a shared honours.
Stoinis is 12/5 (boosted from 2/1) and Maxwell 16/5. Perhaps Stoinis is worth following given the possibility of overs being lost.
The reliable Ashton Turner gives us an edge at 11/2 for top Perth bat but at No 5 he might not get much crease time because of the weather. We rate Josh Inglis in the opening berth but there's no evidence we should be betting him at 11/5. Colin Munro is 16/5. As opener he has five wins in his last 24.
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