After 56 matches in the regular season, the Big Bash League playoffs kick off with the Eliminator match between Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Thunder at Blundstone Arena on Thursday.
The loser packs their bags, while the winner will travel to Adelaide to take on the Strikers in the Knockout on Saturday.
The Hurricanes finished the season fourth (W6, L7, NR 1), while the Thunder claimed the last playoff spot in fifth, a place behind and only separated by net run rate. The Hurricanes are on a roll, though, winning their last three matches. The Thunder scraped through with two wins out of their last five.
The Hurricanes have a 2-2 record at this venue this season, with a win against the Thunder being the latest. The return of D’Arcy Short (320 runs @ SR 129.03, six wickets) and James Faulkner (nine wickets, ER 7.17) gives them excellent depth. The form of Matthew Wade is a huge bonus, but the stuttering performances of the rest is a cause of concern.
A lot will depend on how Qais Ahmad (12 wickets) and Scott Boland (14 wickets) will lead the attack for the Hurricanes. The emergence of Nathan Ellis (11 wickets) as a death bowling specialist has enhanced their options.
The Thunder have lost their last three designated away matches and have an overall 3-4 record this season playing away from home. The supreme batting of Alex Hales (449 runs, SR 143.91) has been their driving force, as the form of Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja nosedived.
With the ball, it has been a sensational season so far for Daniel Sams (25 wickets), six of those coming against the Hurricanes. Worryingly for the Thunder, the support for him is limited with only Chris Morris (15 wickets) coming up with the goods.
The Hurricanes have been on the upswing ever since Wade re-joined the side, and look strong with Short and Faulkner in the team. The Thunder are piggybacking on the exploits of Hales, but are struggling to find support elsewhere. On current form and on a man-to-man basis, the Hurricanes have an edge over the Thunder.
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History & Statistics
- The Hurricanes have a 2-4 record in the BBL playoffs, while the Thunder have a 2-0 record.
- The Hurricanes have won six of seven H2H matches at this venue.
- The Hurricanes have had the best opening partnership in ten of the last 14 matches at this venue.
- The Thunder had the best powerplay score in the last four H2Hs at this venue.
- The teams split the regular season H2Hs, with the home team winning on both occasions.
Wade has scores of 66, 56 and 130* (latest) in his last three matches during the regular season. The Hurricanes captain will be itching for another good knock.
Hales has become the lynchpin for the Thunder as the season moved to the business end. Against the Hurricanes this season, he has scores of 55 & 63, each time top-scoring for his side.