Melbourne Renegades v Perth Scorchers | Thursday, December 29, 7.10pm (AEDT), Docklands, Melbourne
The red half of Melbourne will be looking to build on their first-up win over the defending champions with Aaron Finch enjoying the return to Twenty20 action and jumped all over the Thunder bowlers early.
A fascinating contest awaits between former Australian teammates should the Scorchers pick Mitchell Johnson (pictured below) after he was surprisingly ‘rested’ from Tuesday’s loss to the Sixers.
Perth struggled to cope with the sluggish nature of the surface at the SCG and will once again face a trial by spin here with the Renegades boasting two of the best slow bowlers in the competition in Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine.
Hogg should relish the opportunity to lock horns with his old franchise and was at his miserly best against the Thunder while Narine picked up the key wicket of danger man Andre Russell and was also economical.
The Scorchers absolutely dominated this contest last season, recording the first ever 10-wicket win in the history of the Big Bash after an unbroken 171-run stand between Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh, who loom as key players at the top of the order once again.
Unibet Odds: Melbourne Renegades 1.83 Perth Scorchers 1.98
Brisbane Heat v Hobart Hurricanes | Friday, December 30, 7.10pm (AEDT), Gabba, Brisbane
The Heat had Chris Lynn (pictured above) to thank from rescuing them from a parlous position midweek and will fancy their chances of toppling the Hurricanes.
Mark Steketee has played an influential role in both wins thus far, executing some quality death bowling under pressure against the Strikers (an area he has struggled with previously) before a tidy spell was backed up with runs in support of Lynn to have him starting to finally realise his potential.
Tim Paine has led from the front for Hobart with major hands in both of their matches but in line with the nature of the format, the Jekkyl and Hyde performances of 'The Wild Thing' Shaun Tait (pictured above) have mirrored the Hurricanes’ results.
His propensity to bowl too many ‘four balls’ must be a concern to Paine after he leaked 56 runs in the loss to the Stars and Brendon McCullum is certain to go after him in an attempt to set the tone.
Backing up from an unlikely win against the Thunder on Wednesday night, the Heat should be feeling good about themselves and look to have a bit too much firepower.
Unibet Odds: Brisbane Heat 1.70 Hobart Hurricanes 2.15
Adelaide Strikers v Sydney Sixers | Saturday, December 31, 7.10pm (AEDT), Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
These sides meet in a repeat of their epic clash from last year. Together with the Melbourne derby the following evening, the back-to-back fixtures either side of the New Year have become a real crowd puller and highlight of the BBL season.
A Travis Head (pictured above) blitz, in which he cracked nine sixes on his way to an unbeaten hundred, saw the Strikers pull that match out of the hat but they enter this match under real pressure having dropped their opening two games.
In contrast to other franchises, the Strikers are short on spin bowling and genuine variation in their attack which has seen both Brisbane and Perth plunder heavy scores against them.
The Sixers would love to gain revenge for that loss and have gotten a fair bit out of their English imports Jason Roy and Sam Billings thus far.
Brad Haddin hasn’t really fired as yet but loves the big stage while the all-round skills of Johan Botha (pictured above) are also a big asset for the franchise.
The Strikers are struggling and the magenta mob can claim a vital win on the road.
Unibet Odds: Adelaide Strikers 1.77 Sydney Sixers 2.05
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