The daily Big Bash League preview charges down the wicket with BBL tips as Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers meet in a do-or-die playoffs clash at the MCG.
History: Played 18: Thunder 9 V Strikers 7 (2 No Result)
Last meeting: January 2, 2022: Thunder d Strikers by 28 runs at Sydney Showground
Final Thoughts: Third-placed Sydney Thunder have been waiting in the BBL playoffs wings waiting for their opportunity in the Knockout, where they will attempt to tame the streaking Adelaide Strikers.
The Strikers extended their winning streak to five matches with 22-run sudden-death defeat of the Hurricanes in Friday’s Eliminator. Matthew Short (89 off 48) and returning Test star Alex Carey (67 off 45) set up the win with a 145-run opening stand. The Strikers posted a somewhat disappointing 6/188 on the back of that outstanding platform, but veteran Peter Siddle – the BBL’s leading wicket-taker – stymied the ’Canes’ chase with 4/32.
While he made only five runs, Ashes hero Travis Head’s injection is another wildcard as the Strikers emerge as a smoky for the Big Bash crown.
The 9-5 Thunder wrapped up their round-robin campaign modestly, losing to the Hurricanes (9 runs) and Sixers (60 runs) before edging the last-placed Renegades by one run in an absolute thriller. There were several positives to take out of the eclipse of the ’Gades, though. Captain Usman Khawaja (77 off 51) was superb in his first match back from Test duty, while explosive English opener Alex Hales (44 off 22) continued his recent form revival.
In a nerve-shredding defence of 170, Gruinder Sandhu (3/33) and Daniel Sams (1/22) were clutch with the ball at the death.
The teams played their two BBL|11 regular-season matches in the space of three days, with the Thunder taking out both.
Jason Sanga (91* off 55) and Daniel Sams (4/33) headlined a 22-run victory at Adelaide Oval on New Year’s Eve. Jono Wells (46 off 26) top-scored as the Strikers fell short in chasing a target of 188. Matthew Gilkes (93 off 57) and Mohammad Hasnain (3/20) were the stars of the Thunder’s remarkably similar 28-run win at Spotless Stadium.
The Thunder head in as $1.71 favourites to earn a place in the Challenger alongside the Sixers. But the Strikers have built irresistible momentum, while the injection of Carey and Head has provided the men in cornflower blue with an extra edge.