Perth Scorchers v Sydney Sixers
Saturday January 22nd, 08:15 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Scorching a path to the qualifier
Despite appearing in front of empty stadiums before being shunted across Australia to play their 'home' games, Perth Scorchers topped the regular season table with a cushion of five points over the chasing pack. Ashton Turner's men lost just three of their 14 matches and won both encounters against Sydney Sixers.
Unsurprisingly, Perth players feature highly in the individual player stats with two of their batters scoring heavily across the season. Mitchell Marsh and Colin Munro are the key wickets but Kurtis Patterson and Josh Inglis have also made important contributions.
In the bowling department, the reliable AJ Tye leads the attack. His variations remain crucial to the Scorchers at this advanced stage of the competition and, along with Marsh and Munro, Tye should be pivotal to this qualifier.
Sixers hold their nerve
Sydney Sixers saw off a late challenge from their cross-city rivals the Thunder to cling on to second place. Moises Henriques' men lost four games in the regular season but, as we know, two of those defeats came at the hands of Perth Scorchers.
In terms of individual performances, the Sixers are more than a match for Saturday's opponents. Hayden Kerr is second in the wickets table and should go top during this finals series. Josh Philippe and Moises Henriques will be looking to advance their lofty positions in the leading run scorer charts.
The Sixers' great quality is their strength in depth in all departments. Everyone looks to accept responsibility and they'll take it to the last ball if they have to.
Marvellous Melbourne plays host
The Marvel Stadium in Melbourne offers a neutral ground for Saturday's match. Technically, Perth Scorchers are the home side and they will have some advantage due to the fact that they've played here three times already.
All three of those matches resulted in wins for Perth and that's another factor to take into account.
Overall, eight games have been played here this season and they have produced an average first innings score of 172. Five of those matches went to the team taking first knock while three were claimed by the chasing side. It should be a clear, warm evening and, with three previous targets in excess of 200 on this surface it's a day to take first knock and post 180+.
Perth Scorchers starts as favourites for the win at 1.794/5 with the Sixers following on at 2.206/5. Considering the relative positions in the table and the results from the two head to heads, those figures hold no surprises.
It could be a tight call: Sydney Sixers have quality and depth but they also have that resilience that runs through the squad. The team would have been enhanced had they been able to use Steve Smith at this late stage.
Perth, meanwhile, look to be the complete T20 side. There is balance in the batting between power hitting and patient accumulation. The attack has variation in abundance and I'm backing the Scorchers to go through based on those factors.
Mitchell Marsh is the favourite to top score for Perth at 13/5 which leaves Colin Munro looking relatively generous at 7/2. Munro has accumulated more runs across BBL 11 but Marsh's 59 against Brisbane Heat last time out helps him claim the shorter odds.
In fact, you have to go back to December 28th against Sydney Thunder for the last time that Munro made the biggest contribution. That suggests he's due and I feel 7/2 is too good to turn down.
I'd backed Moises Henriques to top score in each of the Sixers' last two matches only to see Daniel Hughes come through with the return on each occasion. Henriques had been Sydney's most consistent run scorer in the tournament and he's worth another look this time at 16/5.
Josh Philippe starts as favourite in this market at 12/5 while other options include Hughes at 4/1 and Dan Christian - who top scored for the Sixers in both head to heads - at 11/2.