Ed Hawkins finds a top-bat wager for a top-of-the-table clash from Canberra in the Big Bash on Saturday...
"The power surge - which makes hitting easier in the final third - means taking on the openers is not quite the risk of old"
Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers
Saturday 16 January, 07:40
TV: live on BT Sport
Sixers remain top of the pile with seven wins. Last time out they blitzed cross-town rivals the Thunder in a rain-affected game.
Set 129 in 14 overs, they were indebted to Josh Phillipe's hitting. His 64 came off 34 balls as they maintained their reputation as one of the best chasing teams around. Justin Avendano opened with Phillipe as Jake Edwards missed out.
They have excellent hitting depth with Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaite capable of lower-order power. Jake Ball has arrived to give them some decent variety with the ball.
Possible XI Philippe, Avendano, Vince, Hughes, Silk, Christian, Brathwaite, O'Keefe, Dwarshius, Ball, Pope
Scorchers have won five in a row after a slow start and are eyeing top spot after downing the Sixers in that sequence. They are currently third and nine points behind.
They have clicked thanks to their overseas stars giving them balance and confidence. Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy are dangerous up front. But that pairing has taken the pressure off Josh Inglis who has thrived in a new role in the middle-order.
They are boosted for this one by the return of Colin Munro from injury. Mitch Marsh, however, remains out with a niggle. Jyhe Richardson is the joint-top wicket-taker in the tournament and has made useful contributions at No 8. It means Ashton Agar hasn't been missed yet. He could return for the play-offs.
Possible XI Roy, Livingstone, Munro, Inglis, Turner, Bancroft, Hardie, Richardson, Tye, Behrendorff, Fawad
The first-innings scores at the Manuka Oval (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 149-2/166-2/219-1/209-1/152-2/178-2/169-1/125-2. Thunder are responsible for those two efforts of 200 or more. With the chaser holding up well, too, it is fair to reckon this is a pretty good batting wicket. Still, the toss winner will probably favour scoreboard pressure. With Perth's bowling trumping Sixers', we would be more confident of Scorchers breaching the 170 or 180 marks.
Scorchers are favourites at 1.865/6 with the Sixers 2.0421/20. It is tempting to reckon that the odds are wrong. After all, look at the table.
But caution is advised. Scorchers are the finest bowling side in the tournament (an insane economy rate of 6.9), reprising their reputation when they dominated the early years of this competition. They have also smashed the Sixers already, by 86 runs.
We could reckon that on a flat pitch, Sixers batting first are a trade. But they have to get hold of this Perth attack. So it is not a given that they are going to be able to cut loose in their normal style. Hobart found that out on a flat wicket when thrashed by Perth in the Scorchers' last game. If Perth bat first they could well be in the 1.608/13 region at the break.
We have been consistent in pointing out that Ashton Turner is underrated for top-bat honours. And he remains so at 10/1 with Sprotsbook. It would be wrong to abandon him now, particularly as Mitch Marsh is out of the squad with injury.
The power surge - which makes hitting easier in the final third - means taking on the openers is not quite the risk of old.
Sportsbook are on the ball by making Avenadano 7/2 - we were hoping they might not spot the promotion. Philippe is 5/2 jolly. But watch out for Jordan Silk who is due a win.
With the ball we have an inkling for Ben Dwarshius at 4/1 for top Sixers bowler. His death bowling could give him cheap wickets.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets