Adelaide Strikers (1-3) V Hobart Hurricanes (2-2) @ Adelaide Oval
Preview - The Strikers and Hurricanes play the second leg of their double-header when they lock horns at the Adelaide Oval tonight. The Strikers' season is teetering on the edge after they dropped to 1-3 with a limp 8-wicket loss against the Hurricanes just four days ago at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. After back-to-back Top 2 finishes, the Strikers are this year scrambling just to stay in the final's race after dropping three of their opening four games. They are back in front of their home fans tonight, after a memorable last-up victory in Adelaide, where they rolled the Sixers for 104 after posting a moderate 152. The Hurricanes will be looking to do the double over Adelaide after their convincing victory in Hobart, led by an excellent bowling performance, which limited the Strikers to 143 before running them down comfortably. Openers D'Arcy Short and Tim Paine made light work of the Strikers total to elevate the Hurricanes to 2-2 and right back in the final's mix. After three straight years in the wilderness, a win tonight will go a long way to getting the Hurricanes back into the finals and taking some of the pressure off Head Coach Damien Wright.
Squad Changes - The Strikers are unchanged from the 13-player squad that went to Hobart and was dispatched by the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes make just the one change to their 13-player squad with fast bowler Ben McDermott replacing Sam Rainbird.
Adelaide Strikers' Scouting Report - If we're being honest, the Strikers' batting in BBL6 has been sub par apart from their opening night 195 against the Heat. In their last three games against the Scorchers, Sixers and Hurricanes, the Strikers highest score is 152 which is not going to win you games in the BBL. All of those games were played on good batting wickets at the WACA, Adelaide Oval and Blundstone Arena. In the last two games, the Strikers have got off to decent starts and really fallen apart from there. Against the Sixers, Brad Hodge and Ben Dunk got them to 1/90 from 9 overs, before they lost 8/62 from the final 11 overs. In Hobart, Ben Dunk got them off to a flyer, reaching 0/40 from 4 overs before losing all 10 wickets for just 103 runs from the final 16 overs. I think it's more a case of the Strikers' key men stepping up to the plate, rather than making any mass changes or major order reshuffle. Ben Dunk, Brad Hodge and Travis Head have made nice 20s and 30s the last few games, however one of them needs to go on and turn that into a 70+ score. Head was the man that elevated the Strikers' batting last year, and he is yet to fire a shot in BBL6. However he at least looked to rediscover some nick in Hobart. Kieron Pollard and Chris Jordan have both look woefully out of sorts coming in at 6 and 7, however I don't see many other options capable of replacing them. Pollard just needs to try and strike a few lusty blows at the moment. He seems to be too intent on nicking and nudging the ball around the final over or two.
The Strikers have not had much to bowl at in their last couple of games, however the signs are there that they are starting to improve as a bowling unit. Billy Stanlake might only be 22, however he has emerged as without doubt the strike bowler and the leader of this Adelaide pace attack. The towering young tearaway has caused all sorts of problems for the Sixers and Hurricanes in the last two games, picking up 4 wickets in total and going for just 34 runs from 7.2 overs. I expect Stanlake to have a bit of a crack at George Bailey and D'Arcy Short with the shorter ball and try and ruffle a few feathers. Along with Ben Laughlin bowling his change-ups and hitting his yorkers at the death, the Strikers do not have what I would call two bankers with the ball - players that they can rely upon to perform with consistency. Chris Jordan has not made the sort of impact you want one of your overseas imports to make, and I would like to see Travis Head bowl his four overs as I think his off spinners are a bit better than part timers.
Hobart Hurricanes Scouting Report - The Hurricanes have been another team that has been hard to get a read on in BBL6. They started with an emphatic victory, before two heavy defeats, and then in their last game they were clinical and excellent in both batting and bowling. What is working for them is their opening combination of Tim Paine and D'Arcy Short. They have an excellent mix there of one right hander that can bat though the innings, and one left hander that can take the game away from you in the Power Play. Tim Paine is having another excellent BBL with 204 runs at an average over 50 and strike rate of 133. D'Arcy Short has got off to two explosive starts in the Hurricanes big wins against the Sixers and Strikers, and has 140 runs at an average of 35 with a brilliant strike rate of 170. Kumar Sangakkara has looked in scratchy form throughout BBL6 and that's something the Hurricanes will need to address with Sangakkara coming into the pivotal position of Number 3. Perhaps one of the weaknesses of the Hurricanes' line up looks from about Number 6 onwards with Jon Wells, Simon Milenko and Cameron Boyce one of the weaker middler orders, at least on paper. If the Strikers get a few early wicket against the Hurricanes, they will fancy their chances of keeping them to a moderate score.
The Hurricanes' bowling had struggled badly with the ball in their two losses against the Stars and Heat, however Dan Christian really ignited their outstanding bowling display against the Strikers in Hobart. Christian had been criminally not used by George Bailey in the lead up to the Hurricanes fourth game, however he showed he still has all the traits that took him to an Australian ODI team. He is a real competitor and has really excellent change ups, and really gave the Hurricanes some impact in both the bowling Power Play and crucial experience with some excellent death bowling. Figures of 5/14 from 4 speak for themselves and I'll expect Christian to be bowling his four overs in every game from now onwards. Stuart Broad is slowly getting better with each game, and he was typically aggressive and right on point in claiming 1/17 from his four overs against the Strikers last time around. I'm not sure if Shaun Tait will be winning a place back in the side on his old stomping ground at the Adelaide Oval. Simon Milenko was very expensive going for 50 from his 4 overs but did pick up a couple of key wickets in the Powerplay so Tait may be consigned to another game on the bench.
Verdict - I Like backing sides rebounding off heavy losses so I expect the Strikers to hit back hard here after they were embarrassed by the Hurricanes in Hobart. They can't afford a home loss here and they are generally a better side playing at Adelaide Oval then on the road. In saying that the Hurricanes win was so dominant the other day that they will take a lot of confidence into this game. They have more players in form then the Strikers do and might find it a bit easier to express themselves and play with freedom. With this game being in Adelaide I think the team batting first will need 175 if they want to be confident of claiming a victory. The Strikers can't possibly bat as poorly as they have in their last 2 games however time is running out for their senior players to step up. On form you would have to tip th Hurricanes in this game, however I think the bounce back factor plush Strikers being back at home makes this game a 50/50 proposition.
The Lurker - "Hasn't been a happy couple of days for The Lurker but i'll be bouncing back with a victory tonight. I'm stinging for a W like I sting for a burner at drink breaks in 4th grade. Get on the Strikers to bounce back at home with a win tonight. Have a lash at the Strikers to hit more horns than the Hurricanes and get on Travis Head to score 25+ into a Strikers win."