Sixers can chase back-to-back titles

Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers
Saturday 6 February 08.40
TV: live on BT Sport

Sixers strong

Sixers could become only the second team in the Bash to defend a title. Fitting, then, that Perth, who were the only other team to do it, stand in their way. And they come into this final in powerful form.

They swatted aside Perth to book their final spot having finished as group winners. And they are arguably more powerful now after Moises Henriques joined up with the squad. It gives them the best balance of any team, ticking all boxes. It’s so well-balanced that Sixers didn’t feel the need to press Mitchell Starc or Nathan Lyon to return.

Josh Philippe, the opener, has been named player of the tournament for his consistent blitzing. A score of 44 or more will see him usurp Alex Hales as top tournament bat. James Vince, who made 98, in the play-off against the Scorchers, is fourth on the runs list. With 21 wickets, Ben Dwarshius is fourth on the top bowler list.

Possible XI Philippe, Vince, Hughes, Henriques, Silk, Christian, Brathwaite, Abbott, Dwarshius, O’Keefe, Bird

Waiting on Roy

Perth took the circuitous route to the final, seeing of a resurgent Brisbane Heat in the ‘semi-final’ following that loss to the Sixers. A five-game winning run in the group stage should have set them up for group winners but they lost their final ladder match. And they do not quite seem the same side. They have lost two of their last three.

Jason Roy is a major doubt with an ankle injury. He missed that success over the Heat with Camron Bancroft taking his place. Perth need Roy at the top of the order. Bancroft managed a half-century against Heat but there are doubts about whether he could stymie their flow. Josh Inglis is a ready-made replacement for Roy. Colin Munro is another option. With such depth available with Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Turner, Perth can afford to go hard up top so Bancroft has to change his natural game.

Against Heat they were indebted to Liam Livingstone producing a sensational knock. He smashed 77 from 39 balls. More than 200 looked on the cards before rain intervened. Heat were then asked to chase 200 in 18 overs and against Perth’s attack, which is the tightest in the tournament, they were never in the hunt.

Possible XI Bancroft, Livingstone, Munro, Marsh, Inglis, Turner, Hardie, Richardson, Behrendorff, Tye, Fawad

Pitch report

This is the first match played at the SCG this tournament. But it is a wicket we know well. There is a toss bias, with 65% of matches won by the chaser in the last five competitions. Bang on 50% of sides bust 160 or more and the average score batting first is 151. The unknown is the weather. Thunderstorms are forecast and there is an 89% chance of rain when play is due to start. The chance of an overs-reduced contest would seem high, then. Sixers won the final last year when rain hit, defending 116 against Stars at the same venue.

Sixers have edge in chase

Sixers are marginal outsiders at 2.0421/20 with Scorchers 1.9110/11. We have it the other way considering Sixers’ home advantage and their impressive record on the head-to-head. It’s four wins in the last five.

Of course this season’s form is far more relevant. They won twice in three against Scorchers. Both successes came in the chase, suggesting they have no fears about this Perth attack.

There is needle between the two. Livingstone, oddly, has claimed Scorchers are running scared. There is bad feeling, too, after Perth deliberately bowled a wide to deny Vince a century in the play-off.

Considering the toss bias, and the weather forecast, we are happy to bet Sixers if the flip goes their way. We should be able to get 1.9010/11.

Tops value

With the weather forecast so poor we have to point out the 15/8 that no fifty is scored. It may also pay to go under 25.5 fours. That’s been a winner 23 times in 43 Bash matches at the SCG. Sixes, too. Going under 11.5 would have lost only eight times. That’s a very tempting wager at 5/6. A Sixers-Scorchers contest at the ground has also never had more than eight sixes (eight matches). The returns this season in the head-to-heads read: 6-9-10.

Openers will be fancies for top bat considering the possibility of overs being lost. Philippe is due a win and has good form against Scorchers, scoring fluently in two of the three meetings. He is 12/5 with Sportsbook. Livingstone and Roy are both 11/4 for Scorchers. Bancroft is 7/2.

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