Weather could play a part in Thursday's game but Matt Harris expects Perth Scorchers to come through against a struggling Sydney Thunder side.
"Buttler now leaves to join up with England and reports in Australia seem a little underwhelmed with his replacement Joe Denly."
Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers
Thursday, 08:40 GMT
Having won their opening game of the campaign, the Thunder have settled back into a familiar pattern and, like other teams around them, risk getting cut adrift in the race for top four. Having previewed this Sydney franchise ahead of the last match against the Strikers, the assessment is much the same with too much reliance being placed on Shane Watson and Jos Buttler for runs and Fawad Ahmed for wickets and economy rate.
Buttler now leaves to join up with England and reports in Australia seem a little underwhelmed with his replacement Joe Denly. Thunder have, however, obtained one of the most consistent and underrated run scorers on the English county circuit and as before, it's the domestic players such as Ben Rohrer. Callum Ferguson and Kurtis Patterson who need to step up.
The hosts should have Usman Khawaja available and a new-look batting order could make a difference against a side with selection issues of their own.
David Willey is best used in T20 cricket as an opening bat and his bowling, particularly on unhelpful Australian surfaces hasn't been effective at BBL07. Having scored 55 in the tight win over the Renegades last time out, his departure to the England ODI squad leaves problems.
Tim Bresnan joins up and the Yorkshireman should improve the bowling attack but he isn't an opening bat so there will be a reshuffle, where presumably Cameron Bancroft will enter. Led by AJ Tye and Mitchell Johnson, this is arguably the best attack in the tournament and Bresnan's inclusion will be key to a play off place.
With injury issues and questions over the availability of Michael Klinger, you somehow feel the batting should be collapsing at any point but the Scorchers underlined their depth in that Renegades win and another play-off place should be nailed on.
Venue and Conditions
We've seen some spectacular thunderstorms around the Sydney area in the last few days and if Thursday's weather forecast is to be believed, this whole preview could be irrelevant. Heavy rain is expected and if it's anywhere close to the biblical proportions seen recently then we could have a blank day.
Putting that aside, three previous games at the Spotless Stadium have produced a healthy average first innings total of 165. Thunder have chased on all three occasions and lost twice so if we were guaranteed a full 40 overs, it may be wiser to win the toss, bat first and target around 170-175. Obviously, weather and Duckworth Lewis Stern issues could come into play however.
Given their respective places in the table, the match odds are where you would expect them to be with the Scorchers clear favourites at [1.76] and Sydney Thunder following at [2.28]. If we were getting a full day's play, the key battle would be between Perth's bowling attack and the Thunder batting line up which should contain two new faces in Denly and Khawaja.
The Scorchers have a more potent set of bowlers and that should help them over the line but I'll certainly be waiting to check on weather conditions and the toss.
Top Perth Batsman
Michael Klinger got a first-baller last time out but won't be out of touch for long and is my preference here at [3.0]. In what could be a shortened game, it can pay to favour the openers but Klinger has the quality and overall form to deliver here no matter what.
Other options for the Scorchers' top batsman include Ashton Turner, Cameron Bancroft and Hilton Cartwright all at [5.0] and I must admit I'm seriously tempted by Adam Voges at an excellent price of [7.4] but Klinger is the overall recommended bet for Thursday.
This is a market that's worked OK for me in this tournament and can be used either as a hedge or to get a little more value than the result betting. In this case, Thunder's price of [2.6] looks very strong as opposed to favourites Perth who are uncomfortably short at [1.74].
The loss of Jos Buttler may have affected those prices but there's enough power hitting in the home camp to deliver, even if they go on to lose the game.
Matt Harris' BBL07 P/L
Back Michael Klinger to Top Score for Perth Scorchers at [3.0]