Perth Scorchers v Otago
Wednesday September 25
Live on Eurosport 2
Perth got as far as the toss in Ahmedabad on Monday before rain ruined the day for everyone. It was the worst possible start as it means they go into this tough game with no match practice at all. Ashton Agar was to make his domestic T20 debut in that game, some two months after his Test debut. If he plays in this game it will be just another step along the way of a career which seems intent on inverting every cricketing norm.
Aside from Agar and skipper Simon Katich, the side is lacking experience at Test level, although both Brad Hodge and Adam Voges bring limited overs expertise. Look for both to contribute with both bat and ball if Perth are to get near Otago in this one.
Otago cruised through the qualifying contest, winning all three of their games and eliminating fancied Kandurata Maroons along the way. They then suffered the frustration of seeing their opening game against Mumbai Indians rained off on Monday, a match which they would've been confident of winning.
Brendon McCullum is the top-scoring batsman left in the competition, whilst Hamish Rutherford and Ryan ten Doeschate have strike rates only bettered by AB de Villiers of the Titans. Ian Butler, meanwhile, is the leading wicket taker left in the competition and has the best economy rate of any of the top bowlers. They will be formidable opposition in this antipodean square-off.
Venue and Conditions
The one game played at Jaipur saw Rajasthan Royals pip Mumbai Indians on the fourth ball of the last over. It looks to be a pitch which is easier to chase runs on, with little to offer either the spinners or the out and out quicks. Gentle movement is probably the best that can be hoped for, which could be accentuated if there is moisture in the atmosphere. Sadly, that looks almost inevitable, with sunshine and showers forecast for game time. Don't forget your Duckworth Lewis calculator if you're betting this one in play!
The Scorchers are [2.1] outsiders here, with Otago favourites at [1.76]. It promises to be a close contest, but go with the New Zealanders simply on the basis that they've had the extra match practice.
Voges has joined Perth in India en route home from the ODI series which followed the Ashes. He acquitted himself well there, not only scoring runs but taking wickets with his seemingly innocuous left arm spin. His bowling talents are likely to be less relevant, but as the one Scorchers batsman with a record against high quality bowling in recent times he'll be a steal even at odds of around [4.5].
McCullum is the easy choice to make here, but the market is going to reflect that, driving his price downwards. Instead, your better bet here is Rutherford. He is bound to turn one of his fast starts into a good innings at some point and rarely fails twice in a row with the bat. Moreover, as an opener he has more chance to build a big innings, even in this form of the game. Back him at around [4.6].