Sydney Sixers v Sydney Thunder
Saturday January 15th, 07:40 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Sixers in late season slump
Defending BBL champions the Sydney Sixers made a fast start to this season's tournament but two straight defeats to Perth Scorchers has seen them surrender their place in the top two. It could be argued that most sides will lose to table toppers Perth but those losses leave the Sixers with a prospect of facing a more circuitous route to the final.
The loss of James Vince to international duty would have been a concern but the English opener failed to really match his heavy run scoring from a year ago. Replacing him adequately will be pivotal in the final stages of the regular season.
Strength in depth has always been key to the Sixers' success in all departments. In their most recent win over the Renegades, Moises Henriques and Jack Edwards rallied with the bat while Ben Dwarshius claimed the Player of the Match award with a five-wicket haul.
Thunder fall short
Sydney Thunder were the team to take advantage of their cross-city rivals' slump as they moved into second place. Like the Sixers, this Sydney franchise has also lost a player to England duty but, while the in-form Sam Billings has departed, Alex Hales has found his touch.
He could do nothing to stop Thunder from slipping to defeat against Hobart on Thursday but scores of 38 and 80 in his last two games have helped Hales become the first Englishman to pass 9,000 T20 runs.
With Michael Gilkes, Jason Sangha and Daniel Sams also in the runs, there are few issues in the Thunder's top order. The addition of Mohammad Hasnain's thunderbolts has boosted the bowling but an expensive seam attack remains a potential weakness.
Sydney Cricket Ground to host
Appropriately for the Sydney Derby, the SCG will host Saturday's contest. The ground has hosted four previous matches at BBL 11 with extremely contrasting results. The first two games saw Sydney Sixers, followed by Hobart Hurricanes, each post 213 which was more than enough to win.
The next two games saw Sydney Sixers successfully chase down targets of just 147 and 105. It's difficult to draw a conclusion from those scores but, with the possibility of a shower here and there, it should be a day to win the bat flip and insert.
Just four points separate these two sides and the Sixers have a game in hand so the match result betting is as tight as you might expect. Sydney Sixers have the edge at odds of 1.8810/11 with the Thunder just behind at 2.0811/10.
It's as tricky to call as those figures suggest: In terms of batting, the Thunder rely heavily on the top three and, while I mentioned Daniel Sams, his 98 against the Renegades was one of those freak, once in a lifetime innings.
The Sixers have greater depth to the batting and, with the Thunder's bowling attack likely to be expensive when put under pressure, I'll side with the favourites.
Jack Edwards is the man promoted from within to cover for James Vince and he impressed with 40 against the Renegades last time out. His highest score across 26 games in this format is just 47 but he's an improving player and, at just 21 years of age, he has time to fulfill his potential.
Edwards is second favourite at 7/2 and slots in as my recommended bet. Josh Philippe is a short favourite at 5/2 while other options include Daniel Hughes at 7/2 and Moises Henriques at 4/1.
My match result prediction could be tested by any of the Sydney Thunder's top three. Previously in this tournament, I've mentioned Alex Hales' inconsistency - something I'd witnessed first hand last summer. A first ball duck, followed by a century in the Blast on consecutive days last June could define his performances.
However, when he gets some momentum he can be hard to shift and he comes into this game on the back of scores of 80 and 38. He's the dangerman and, if you're looking for a third tip, Hales to top score for Sydney Thunder at 12/5 would be my preference.