The Adelaide Strikers began strongly this season, getting better of the more fancied and star studded Melbourne Stars outfit. Struggling to find their feet in the first half of the game, Alex Ross and Brad Hodge combined brilliantly to rescue the Strikers from a precarious 4-64 to a match winning total of 187.
The Strikers had finished on top of the league standings last season riding largely on the form of Travis Head, Craig Simmons and wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman.
This season, however, they will be without their star West Indian import Kieron Pollard. Instead, they have secured the services of veteran Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene and it is tough to say whether the injury has served as a setback or a blessing in disguise.
Scorchers, on the other hand will look to start off on a winning note. The last side to enter the tournament, the Scorchers are undoubtedly the most successful side in the BBL’s short history, making it to the finals of all the 4 seasons and having won the last 2.
However, this season seems like the most difficult yet for the side from Perth with plenty of roadblocks to deter their juggernaut. The bad news (or good) for the Scorchers is that 4 out of their 11 first team players will be on national duty. Adam Voges, enjoying a dream run in Test cricket, the Marsh brothers and Nathan Coulter-Nile are all part of the Australian test setup and will miss majority of the games unless releases back from the Test team.
Their overseas imports, the English duo of Michael Carberry and David Willey, though decent and steady additions are not proven match winners by any stretch of the imagination. However, in Jason Behrendorff, Joel Paris, Andrew Tye, old warhorse Brad Hogg and Willey, the Scorchers have probably the best bowling line up in the BBL.
Their batting, on the other hand, will be a major concern as they seem to simply lack the firepower to go big.
AC Agar, CT Bancroft, MA Carberry, NM Coulter-Nile, GB Hogg, M Klinger, MR Marsh, SE Marsh, JS Paris, AJ Turner, AJ Tye, AC Voges*, SM Whiteman†, DJ Willey
JR Dean, TM Head, BJ Hodge*, JM Holland, DPMD Jayawardene, HP Kingston, B Laughlin, TP Ludeman†, MG Neser, AU Rashid, KW Richardson, AI Ross, CJ Simmons
The match will be played in Perth known for its fast bouncy pitches. Scores of 146, 192, 178, 134 and 144 were achieved in the 5 matches played here, indicating a clear lack of consistency. Scores of 192, 178 and 144 were successfully defended by the side batting first pointing to the fact that 160 is probably a good first inning score on the track. Since it is the first match of the season, one has to wait and watch as to how the pitch turns out to be this time around.
Scorchers: First match of the season.
Match predictions and Punters take:
Both teams have strengths that are poles apart. Whilst the Scorchers boast of a star studded bowling setup, the Strikers have a street smart batting line up. Bet365 has put Scorchers as clear favourites at 1.57 but I would be really apprehensive of taking that first up.
The Strikers on the other hand have been handed a juicy 2.37 and I would take than with both hands at the start of the game. The Scorches do lack fire power in their batting and the Strikers are a tad bit short in their bowling so it makes for a keen contest between bat and ball for both the sides. Though the match is being played at the home ground and slightly bowling friendly conditions of Perth, I would go for an upset victory with the Strikers coming out on top based on their sheer batting prowess.
It remains to be seen how the pitch plays, but either ways, it does seem to be a match that will go down to the last 2 overs.
Micheal Carberry’s odds of 4.50 to top score for the Scorchers is a decent bet as the opener has done well off late.Published 21 Dec 2015, 00:49 IST