Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat
Saturday 4 February, 08:30
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Perth have lost Ashton Agar and Lance Morris to Australia duty and Jyhe Richardson is unlikely to win his race to be fit. It would be hard to argue they can't cope. Indeed, Richardson has been missing for weeks.
Matt Kelly is most likely to replace Morris but Peter Hatzoglou also has a chance. Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis and AJ Tye have been named in the team of the tournament.
Probable XI: Eskinazi, Bancroft, Hardie, Inglis, Turner, Hobson, Payne, Connolly, Kelly, Tye, Behrendorff
Heat, as we said they would, stunned Sixers in the Challenger. But whereas they had twice dominated Sixers with the bat in the league season, they have struggled against Perth.
Michael Neser, surely the player of the tournament, will have to produce another man of the match effort to get them home here. The loss of Usman Khawaja, Marnus labuschagne and Matt Renshaw will be more keenly felt.
Probable XI: Heazlett, Brown, McSweeney, Hain, Peirson, Bryant, Neser, Bazley, Bartlett, Johnson, Kuhnemann
The Perth pitch has not lived up to a reputation for runs. Only twice in eight games has more than 160 been busted. Heat managed one of those. But the temptation to go under the par line if they bat first is strong. Heat average 7.9 runs per over this season and they face a Perth attack which have conceded an average of 7.4. Going low at 160 could pay off.
How to play
Both of these teams have won seven of their last eight. So something has got to give. The match odds market, unsurprisingly, make Perth favourites at 1.422/5. That is much shorter than we expected. Heat are 3.309/4. They were 2.6813/8 to beat Sixers.
Perth won both head-to-heads against Heat, chasing with ease. It is hard to see a route to victory if Heat bat first. They are going to have to squeeze the Scorchers like they did Sixers.
Hardie has been boosted to 11/4 for top Perth bat. He has two fifites against them this term. Sam Hain is boosted to 4s for Heat but Neser at 19/1 has more appeal. The latter is 11/4 for top Heat bowler and 10/1 for player of the match. It is surely a peculiarity that Neser didn't tale a wicket in either previous meet.