A tight Sydney derby is in store in the Big Bash on Wednesday and Matt Harris sees the Sixers' resilience as key to their chances of beating the Thunder.
"Sam Billings’ 83 from just 48 balls provided a welcome piece of resistance and showed that Thunder have batting depth"
Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers:
Wednesday January 13th, 08:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Billings shines but Thunder fall short
Sydney Thunder have three players in the BBL 10 leading run scorers but Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson made just 31 between them in Saturday's defeat to Perth. Sam Billings' 83 from just 48 balls provided a welcome piece of resistance and showed that Thunder have batting depth but the run chase needed a fast start from the top three.
Thunder have missed Daniel Sams, both for his pace with the ball up front and his power hitting in the late overs. Ferguson's side have largely relied on spin throughout this tournament but, as Chris Green and Tanveer Sangha went wicketless against the Scorchers, the attack struggled. Sydney's men in green sit at the top but, like every T20 franchise, they need their key men to fire.
Dans at the double
Sydney Sixers took it right down to the final delivery as they chased Brisbane's target of 148 on Sunday. In a game that saw great fluctuations in the live markets, the Sixers looked out of it at 54/4 before Daniel Hughes and Dan Christian combined to bring the rate down. Hughes' dismissal sparked a late panic before Christian dispatched a waste-high full toss to the boundary with the scores tied.
The men in magenta have a history of leaving it late at BBL 10 and that win also underlines that they've been relying a little too much on their middle order. Josh Philippe is in the running for the Golden Cap but Sixers will need more consistent contributions from James Vince, Jordan Silk and Jack Edwards.
Two very big positives were delivered by Carlos Brathwaite and Jake Ball who claimed a combined six wickets against the Heat. Ball, however, continues to go above 10 an over and Sixers will need to make a decision over his inclusion on Wednesday.
Sydney derby hosted by Canberra
The current nature of world sport means that Wednesday's Sydney derby will take place at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. It's certainly worth noting that Thunder have played here five times, they've won four of those matches and have posted in excess of 200 on two occasions. In six games at BBL 10, the average first innings score is 175 and wins have been evenly split between chasing sides and those batting first.
Conditions are expected to be clear with no threat of rain and the batting side will need to post a target at that 175 average as a bare minimum.
After nine matches, Thunder and the Sixers have identical records of six wins and three defeats. The Sydney sides lead the way at the top of the table with Sixers ahead by virtue of two extra bonus points. Based on those returns, it's going to be a tough call but Thunder are 1.8810/11 for the win on the Exchange with Sixers 2.111/10.
My first instinct was to opt for the Sixers on the basis that they can never be ruled out. To convert, I'd like to see Daniel Hughes' side chase and clearly it would be preferable if they don't leave it to the last ball. Another key to victory is to dismiss the openers Hales and Khawaja cheaply as the Scorchers did last time out. That's the scenario needed for the Sixers to win and I don't like changing my initial instinct - however tempting it may be.
With a T20 World Cup taking place this year, Josh Philippe is among a clutch of young domestic players looking to attract the Aussie selectors' attention. He's ticked a few boxes with an IPL contract and a blistering 95 at the start of BBL 10 but he needs to add more consistency to his game.
The Sixers can't keep relying on their middle order to see them home and Philippe is due a big score on Wednesday. He's 11/4 in his side's top batsman market while other options include James Vince at 16/5, Daniel Hughes at 7/2, Jack Edwards at 9/2 and Dan Christian at a tempting 9/1.
Could Wednesday's game deliver the first individual century of this tournament? We've had a few scores in the 90s but, at the time of writing, no-one has quite got over the three figure line. Odds of 6.611/2 on the Exchange are available for this bet and it could be time for a small wager.
With Sydney Thunder exceeding 200 on two occasions on this ground, and the Sixers delivering a 95 from Philippe and a 96 from Hughes, the individual century bet may not see a better time to convert.
Matt Harris' BBL P/L