Sun, Jan 1, 1:18pm by Kevin Pitstock
WHERE AND WHEN
Blundstone Arena at 7.00pm
HOBART HURRICANES CAMPAIGN:
Game 1 – defeated Perth Scorchers by 31 runs at WACA (18/12)
Game 2 – defeated Sydney Sixers by 42 runs at Blundstone Arena (21/12)
Game 3 – defeated Adelaide Strikers by 14 runs at Adelaide Oval (28/12)
v Sydney Thunder at Blundstone Arena (1/1)
v Brisbane Heat at ‘Gabba (6/1)
v Melbourne Stars at Blundstone Arena (9/1)
v Melbourne Renegades at Blundstone Arena (18/1)
SYDNEY THUNDER CAMPAIGN:
Game 1 – defeated Melbourne Stars by six wickets (with six balls remaining) at MCG (17/12)
Game 2 – defeated Adelaide Strikers by six wickets (with nine balls remaining) at ANZ Stadium (23/12)
Game 3 – lost to Melbourne Renegades by six runs at ANZ Stadium (30/12)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (1/1)
v Sydney Sixers at ANZ Stadium (8/1)
v Perth Scorchers at ANZ Stadium (11/1)
v Brisbane Heat at ‘Gabba (17/1)
Xavier Doherty was unexpectedly thrown into the Hurricanes’ captaincy role when wicketkeeper Tim Paine withdrew from the Big Bash League due to a finger injury. But the Tasmanian has slotted into the role with aplomb and is thriving with the extra responsibility. The 29-year-old has taken six wickets over the first three matches of the tournament, including a match-winning haul of 4-17 against the Strikers. Doherty will be keen to continue his good form and lead by example as the Hurricanes continue their dominance. But the left-arm spinner will also be keen to impress national selectors to secure a spot in Australia’s T20 side.
Ben Dunk is one of an exciting breed of young Australian cricketers who have a golden opportunity to make a name for themselves in the Big Bash League. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper hit the Australian domestic scene exactly two years ago and impressed early on with the bat. Dunk hit a blistering 70 not out off 40 balls to give Queensland a chance in the 2009-10 Big Bash preliminary final. The attacking left-handed batsman has been in good knick over recent months, which included a wonderful innings of 115 not out against Western Australian in November. Watch for Dunk to play a big role for the Thunder on New Year’s Day.
HOBART HURRICANES LIKELY TEAM:
1. Phil Jaques
2. Jonathon Wells
3. Travis Birt
4. Owais Shah
5. Tom Triffit (WK)
6. Rhett Lockyear
7. Matt Johnston
8. Jason Krejza
9. Rana Naveed
10. Xavier Doherty (C)
11. Ben Laughlin
SYDNEY THUNDER LIKELY TEAM:
1. Chris Gayle
2. Daniel Smith (C)
3. Usman Khawaja
4. Ben Dunk (WK)
5. Tim Cruickshank
6. Jason Floros
7. Sean Abbott
8. Luke Doran
9. Scott Coyte/Luke Butterworth
10. Fidel Edwards
11. Doug Bollinger
Two of the best performed teams in the Big Bash League to date go head-to-head on New Year’s Day down the bottom of the country. It might be colder than anywhere else in the country, but no doubt these two teams will raise the temperature significantly.
Hobart has shown tremendous form over the opening few rounds of the competition. The Hurricanes have batted first in all three games and defended their total with supreme confidence each time.
Sydney dropped its first game for the tournament on Friday night as they fell six runs short of the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium. The Thunder did well to restrict the Renegades to 8-140, but their heavy reliance on Chris Gayle during their chase was unhealthy. Gayle made 75 from 54 balls, but the next best scorer was Usman Khawaja with 17. In the end, they fell short by six runs.
Their top order is sound and set and they key to victory will once again be Travis Birt and Phil Jaques. The two left-handers have scored the most and the third-most runs in the competition so far. They have put on partnerships of 37, 23 and 107 over the first three matches and have looked close to impossible to get out.
However the Thunder’s underrated bowling attack may be able to tame the Hurricanes’ top order. Doug Bollinger and Fidel Edwards will lead the attack with ferocity, while the youth of Sean Abbott, Luke Butterworth and Luke Doran provide a good balance.
But the burden hanging over the Thunder’s batting line-up and the huge responsibility over Chris Gayle’s head is too great. The Hurricanes sit on top of the Big Bash League table because they have depth, particularly in their bowling attack. Expect the men in purple to kick off 2012 on a winning note.
Hobart Hurricanes to win ($1.70 – Centrebet)
Chris Gayle Thunder High Bat ($2.50 – Centrebet)
Xavier Doherty Hurricanes Most Wickets ($3.50 – Centrebet)
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