ADELAIDE STRIKERS v BRISBANE HEAT
The KFC Big Bash season six got off to a thrilling start as Sydney Sixers rolled past defending Champions Sydney Thunder for a comprehensive derby win. The action now moves to the Adelaide Oval as Brisbane Heat take on Adelaide Strikers on Wednesday, December 21.
The Strikers had a formidable campaign last season that saw them finish topping the league standings. Although they couldn’t go beyond the semis, two consecutive semi-finishes are not a bad thing to mount a title assault. And there’s genuine hope that they can go on to do better things this year.
Barring the second season when they were winners, the Heat have never scorched the turf in BBL. Even last year, they trundled to a sixth-place finish largely riding on the performances of Chris Lynn. But a lot has changed over the off-season and they hope to build on the hype around the destructive duo of Brendon McCullum and Lynn.
Strikers will be without their experienced foreign import from last season Mahela Jayawardene. The duo of Travis Head and Brad Hodge were impressive last season carrying the Strikers to the top of the table. They will be expected to play a vital part once again this year. Adil Rashid is currently finishing his England commitments but his country mate Chris Jordan may well turn out to be a shrewd replacement.
The Strikers have never lost their season opener in the history of BBL and that should pump them up ahead of this match. Ben Dunk is an exciting addition for the home side and the big Caribbean Kieron Pollard will look to underline his credentials as a winner in this format. Keep an eye on Ben Laughlin who was their best bowler behind Rashid last season.
The entire euphoria around having McCullum is reaching a crescendo for the Heat. Together with Lynn, he forms a formidable duo at the top to go along with his innovative skills as captain. Alex Ross would be facing his former side for the first time and would be itching to win the bragging rights.
Bowling looks the weak link though, with just Samuel Badree looking the lone torchbearer. The presence of all-rounders Ben Cutting and Jack Wildermuth – especially the latter – is a comforting factor for the Heat.
History suggests that Strikers should win this match. They have never lost a season opener while Heat have won only once in the past five seasons. Apart from this stat, there is nothing that separates these two teams and you can expect a close contest. The Heat have never lost to the Strikers at Adelaide and this year could be no different. Back the visitors at odds of 2.10 to emerge victorious.
McCullum loves this format and is immensely destructive at the top. If he can stay for a couple of overs, there could be mayhem. Punt on him to be Heat’s top scorer at odds of 4.00. For the Strikers, it could be Dunk who may end up as their top scorer – odds of 5.00.