The 2017-18 Big Bash League champions Adelaide Strikers will start their BBL09 campaign at Manuka Oval with a match against the red-hot Sydney Thunder on Saturday.
The Thunder have won both their matches this season and look to be in exceptional form.
The Thunder started the season with a big splash, winning both their matches so far. A 29-run win over Brisbane Heat started their season, which was followed by a six-wicket win over Melbourne Renegades. While Callum Ferguson impressed in one match, Alex Hales stormed through the target in the second.
With the ball, there has been an all-round execution so far. Arjun Nair and Daniel Sams have picked up four wickets each, while Chris Green continues to be the most frugal bowler around (ER 5.42). With so many bases checked ahead of this match, the Thunder will hope they can win three in a row.
The Strikers have one of the most stable squads in the entire Big Bash and will hope that this will work to their favour. Fan favourite Rashid Khan returns after another season of highs with Afghanistan, while Philip Salt is expected to be the dark horse pick.
Alex Carey’s improvements will be a big boon for the side that has seen Colin Ingram and Ben Laughlin leave over the summer. Cameron White is expected to be a catch, while Wes Agar and Nick Winter provide cover for the pacers. All eyes will be on how well their top-order performs considering that is where they have won the games two seasons ago.
The Strikers have traditionally had an upper hand over the Thunder, but it is the Sydney side that has the momentum. Having already played two matches, they will be confident of continuing the trend and setting pace for the other sides. The Strikers have a stable side with not many changes in the off-summer.
Furthermore, most of the players are fresh from their first-class matches, which should keep them in good form.
History & Statistics
- Adelaide Strikers have won four of their last five matches against Sydney Thunder.
- The last five H2Hs have been won by the team batting first.
- This is the first time these sides are meeting at a neutral venue.
- Sydney Thunder have a 3-2 win-loss record at neutral venues, while the Adelaide Strikers have a 0-1 such record.
- Sydney Thunder have lost six of the last nine Big Bash H2Hs.
Usman Khawaja has started the season in the right earnest scoring 88 runs so far at a SR of 149.15. With national team participation out of the window, he is showing the virtues of a clear mind.
Rashid Khan didn’t have a great off season by struggling to lead Afghanistan across the white-ball formats. Back down under and in his favourite tournament, the leggie will look to keep things tight and be among the wickets.