The Big Bash League preview charges down the wicket with BBL playoffs tips as Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers grapple for the first spot in the final. 

BBL Tips – Perth Scorchers V Sydney Sixers

19:15 (AEDT), Sat 22nd Jan @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

History: Played 22: Scorchers 13 V Sixers 9

Last meeting: January 9, 2022: Scorchers d Sixers by 5 wickets at Coffs Harbour International Stadium

Final Thoughts: Last season’s finalists square off for the first berth in the BBL|11 decider.

The 11-3 Perth Scorchers have been the BBL’s pace-setters all season, though they did lose two of their last four games. But they warmed up for the playoffs with a solid 6-wicket win over the Heat on Monday. Peter Hatzoglou (2/17) and Jason Behrendorff (2/25) helped restrict the Heat to 7/155. Invaluable all-rounder Mitch Marsh, playing his first BBL game in three weeks, led the Scorchers’ chase with a thrilling 59 off 34 balls. They got home with eight balls to spare.

The 9-4-1 Sydney Sixers have won three of their last four. The two-time defending champs clinched second spot with a 27-runs win over the Heat on Wednesday. Daniel Hughes (59 off 45) anchored the Sixers’ innings, with Moises Henriques (28 off 18) and Dan Christian (32 off 24) chipping in to build a total of 6/178. Hayden Kerr continued his outstanding season, stymieing Brisbane’s chase with 3/23.

Josh Philippe (424 runs at 35.33) and skipper Henriques (403 at 44.77) have been the Sixers’ best batters in BBL|11. Marsh has plundered 314 runs at 78.50 in just six innings, while Colin Munro (377 at 47.12) and Kurtis Patterson (326 at 29.63) have been key performers with the bat.

Kerr (22 wickets) is second in the BBL’s wicket-takers standings; Andrew Tye (20) leads the way for the Scorchers.

Scorchers too hot for Sixers in regular season

The Scorchers answered the 11th hour call to fill in on January 4 when COVID-19 tore through the ranks of the Heat, the Sixers’ original opponents. They defied the chaotic lead-up to win by 10 runs.

Lower-order batters Aaron Hardie (45 off 24) and Ashton Agar (29 off 20) helped the Scorchers reach 8/143 after they had slumped to 5/69 in the 13th over. Hayden Kerr (4/32) and Dan Christian (2/14) were the pick of the Sixers’ bowlers. After the Sixers crumbled to 4/16, Christian (73 off 61) set about rescuing his team with the bat. But he was the only Sixers batter to make more than 16 and their chances evaporated when Andrew Tye (3/17) dismissed him in the 19th over. Tymal Mills also took three wickets.

The teams met again five days later in Coffs Harbour, with an under-strength Scorchers line-up getting up by 5 wickets. Ashton Agar (2/23) was instrumental to restricting the Sixers to 4/151; Christian (35* off 20) top-scored with a late flurry. Ashton Turner (69 off 41) ensured the Scorchers reached the target with an over to spare.

Eligibility controversy mars blockbuster

While Alex Carey and Travis Head helped the Strikers to a playoffs win on Friday, fellow Test gun Steve Smith has been ruled ineligible to play for the Sixers because of a contract snafu. They do have spin wizard Nathan Lyon available for selection, however.

The Scorchers, meanwhile, can call upon Test bowler Jhye Richardson to complement Tye, Marsh, Hatzoglou, Behrendorff and spinner Ashton Agar.

It’s the explosiveness of Marsh with the bat that gives the Scorchers, $1.73 favourites here, the edge. Whether it’s been at the T20 World Cup, for Australia A or in the BBL, he has been untouchable over the last few months.

Tip: Josh Philippe & Kurtis Patterson to score 30+ runs each @ $4.50