Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat
Thursday 2 February, 08:15
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Sixers are without Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy. Smith's absence is significant because it piles pressure on the underperforming Josh Philippe and Kurtis Patterson. Daniel Hughes is expected to come in and could open with Patterson remaining at No 3.
The other decision Sixers will have to make is whether to go with two spinners - Steve O'Keefe and Izharulhaq. If not, Jackson Bird is likely to play.
Probable XI: Philippe, Patterson, Hughes, Henriques, Silk, Christian, Kerr, Abbott, Dwashuis, O'Keefe, Bird
Heat have been hammered by Australia calls. There is no Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne or Matt Renshaw. Khawaja's play-off brilliance is the reason they're here. They at least retain Michael Neser.
The three batting slots could go to Max Bryant, Nathan McSweeney and Ross Whiteley. Sam Heazlett, Will Prestwidge and Jack Wildermuth have been included in the squad but haven't played this term.
Possible XI: Bryant, Brown, McSweeney, Hain, Whiteley, Peirson, Neser, Bazley, Bartlett, Kuhnemann, Johnson
More than 150 has been busted twice in five at the SCG. The temptation to sell Heat runs if they bat first should be avoided, though, because a line-up without their Big Three has thrashed this Sixers attack twice. Indeed, going over a par line at around 157.5 could be a play. No rain is forecast.
How to play
Heat are not quite the no-hopers that odds of 2.6813/8 suggest. In the group stage they beat Sixers once and were on course for another before the rain spilt things.
In Brisbane Josh Brown and McSweeney did all the damage as Heat posted a massive 224.
McSweeney was at it again at North Sydney Oval, with Neser helping out, as they posted 147 in 13 overs. We note that Colin Munro and Sam Billings played important cameos.
What it means is that Sixers know they are a in a game. And with Phillipe and Patterson striking at 119 and 109 respectively this term, Smith's extraodinary hitting rather papered over a weakness.
Neser is a solid pick for top Heat bowler at 11/4. He has been outstanding. McSweeney gets a 4/1 for top Heat bat. Hughes is 7/2 for Sixers and it is possible he could open. Do keep Jordan Silk in mind in-play at twice the price. He likes the Heat attack. Sportsbook go 7/1.