Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers
Sunday, 08:15 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
The Big Bash play-offs have already produced a huge-priced winner with Ben Dwarshuis landing odds of 100/1 as Top Sydney Sixers runscorer earlier today. Next, Adelaide Strikers bid to take another step towards landing a miraculous comeback. Earlier in the tournament, they were matched at 300.0299/1 for the title. They're now into 9.89/1, needing three more wins.
There's definitely a lesson in there to take for next year. Having a fifth play-off spot means even teams that are poor in the first half of the season can turn it around (and in fact, Strikers finished fourth). Brisbane Heat did the same last year.
Strikers have hit peak form when it matters
That isn't after-timing on my part - I never thought they had a prayer once Rashid Khan left. Their batters were just too weak. But that is no longer a problem, with Alex Carey and Travis Head back from international duty. Carey hit a superb 67 off 45 in the Eliminator, although was outshone by bang-in-form colleague Matthew Short. Add Ian Cockbain, Matt Renshaw and Jon Wells down to number six, and Strikers now have a quality line-up.
Indeed Strikers have now won five on the spin, and seven of their last eight matches. On that basis, 2.26/5 to win the match is certainly eyecatching. Whilst Thunder were themselves the form team a fortnight ago, they finished the group stage poorly, losing two of their last three, and the win involved scraping home against bottom-placed Renegades.
That said, you won't find any criticism of Thunder here. They've looked a tip-top, well-balanced, aggressive T20 outfit all season. And they too are strengthened with Usman Khawaja back. The Ashes hero top-scored on his first match back and is now forms an enviable opening pairing with Alex Hales.
Two strong batting line-ups on show
With both batting line-ups back to full-strength, this match screams 'big runs'. When batting first, Thunder's last six totals were 170, 209, 172, 187, 200, 196. As Strikers have found form, they've hit 188 and 161 batting first, along with some easy chases.
Moreover recent pitches at the MCG have been much more batting-friendly. Those numbers were 188 beat 166; 273 beat 167; 170 beat 169. Previously Stars had chased 150 with more than six overs to spare. It seems they've kept good pitches fresh for the end of the tournament.
Total fours much preferred to sixes
So, how best to profit from a run-fest? Certainly not on sixes. That 273/166 match was the only time the 10.5 Total Sixes line was passed in the last 11 matches here. In terms of boundary markets, Over 25.5 Total Fours makes better sense. That line was beaten in seven of the last 13 matches and, in the last four, 25 was the lowest total.
Also, try 'Both Teams to Score 170', at 16/5. The trends aren't overwhelming - it landed four times in the last 13 MCG matches but none of the last seven. However it only failed by one run in three matches ago and, as explained, both of these batting line-ups are particularly well-equipped right now.
Furthermore, given a historic bias to the chasing side at this ground, it makes sense as a trade. For example, take 16/5 pre-match. Then, if 170 is passed in the first innings, cover the stake by laying the chaser. Plausibly, both bets could win.
Finally a quick note regarding the #OddsBoost batsmen. Alex Carey is enhanced to 10/3 for Adelaide Strikers. Usman Khawaja to 3/1 for Sydney Thunder.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty