Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat
Monday 14 December, 08:15
TV: live on BT Sport
Middle-order needs Billings
The Thunder were well beaten on Saturday by the Stars. They restricted Glenn Maxwell's men to 169 but despite taking two wickets, Chris Green was too expensive, going for 42 runs off his four overs and Nathan McAndrew went for 36. And that's probably where the game was won and lost.
In reply, they lost Usman Khawaja early but their two other stars with the bat played well, Alex Hales making 46 and Callum Ferguson a typically classy 54 off 35.
But from numbers five to 11 no-one got to double figures and that may well be an area of concern as the tournament progresses. Ben Cutting is a good all-rounder and normally plays one or two big innings a tournament but Daniel Sams is far too high at six. Sam Billings, ending his quarantine period soon, can't arrive soon enough.
Kiwi paceman Adam Milne didn't feature either, meaning they essentially played with just the one overseas player in Hales. We don't know if Milne will be available for this one but hasn't been listed as a runner on the Sportsbook markets, so probably not.
Heat in strife already
What a mess. Tom Banton opted out of playing in the Bash the last minute and Mujeeb Ur Rahman got Covid and missed the first game, though he should be available for this one after recovering.
Those two absences probably weren't the only reason why, like the Thunder, they were soundly beaten by the Stars first up.
But when you probably have the weakest, or at least the worst-balanced team in the tournament, two absences like that are really going to hurt you. There's no news on a replacement for Banton as of yet but what was interesting was to see skipper Chris Lynn bat at three rather than opening.
He's the only real game-changer in the side so you'd think they'd want him around for as many over as possible but then again, if he goes early there's not much else to come.
This could be a really tough season for the Heat. As per usual.
Head-to-head record rules out bet on Thunder
It's 1.845/6 about the Thunder and that looks about right to me. For my money that Top Three of the Thunder trumps anything the Heat have with the bat, and their bowling is better, too. Other than Rahman, who can't be at his best anyway after illness, there's no-one in the team you'd bank on to either take wickets or keep the runs down.
But I'm not wading into an odds-on shot when they're 8-2 down on the head-to-head over the years. Say what you like about these being very different sides in terms of personnel, coaches, strategies etc but it's proof the Heat have had their number over the years. Which is saying something because the Heat practically haven't had anyone's number over the years.
This one's played at Canberra, where the Heat posted just 125 batting first against the Stars, who the next day scored 169 against the Thunder.
Lots in Lynn's favour
It's impossible to ignore the claims of Lynn for top Heat batsman. He's been ana absolute beast in this fixture over the years, scoring 467 runs in it over the years, over 250 more than anyone else. Yes, he's benefited from playing in it year after year almost since the very start of the Bash but his average doesn't lie: 53,38 at a 'Lynnsane' strike rate of 175, considerably higher than his career strike rate of 142. So yeah, he loves this game and over the years has scored 85, 75, 56 and 52.
He doesn't have much to beat as we've hinted already and if that wasn't enough in his favour, Sportsbook have kindly boosted the odds on him from 2/1 to 12/5. He has to be backed.
Sams can be Thunder's man with the ball
For the Thunder, Daniel Sams doesn't have the history in his favour like Lynn does but then again, he's improved massively over the last couple of years and is a totally different bowler these days. He's gone from handy Bash all-rounder to last year's top wicket-taker by some distance, capped by Australia in T20Is and a member of IPL runners-up the Delhi Capitals.
Bizarrely, he wasn't given a fourth over against the Stars despite taking two wickets and going at just eight an over. Had he been he may well have taken the third wicket that would have seen him win this betting heat last time out. So he dead-heated in a three-way tie but could go one better this time. Like Lynn, his price has been boosted to 3/1 from 5/2 and that certainly helps his cause.