After an incredible end to the home and away season, the BBL10 finals kick off with a blockbuster Friday night clash between the Heat and Strikers at the Gabba.
The Heat are riding high after making their first finals appearance in four years thanks to an upset victory over the Scorchers on Tuesday.
The Strikers had a nervous wait on Tuesday, but after the Hurricanes and Stars lost, they managed to hold their place in the top five. A match against the Thunder on Sunday awaits the winner, but it’s season over for the loser of The Eliminator.
The Heat come into this clash as the favourites on the back of consecutive wins to host The Eliminator, but the Strikers will be full of confidence with their recent record against Brisbane. The Strikers have won their last three games against the Heat and have won five of their last six games against Brisbane at the Gabba. The Heat’s depth is a massive concern, with limited production from most of the batting unit outside of Chris Lynn.
With Jake Weatherald and Alex Carey moving back to the top of the order, the Strikers batting unit looks much more settled. Carey and Weatherald are the third most successful opening partnership in BBL history, and it has taken the pressure off Phil Salt protecting him from the new ball which he has struggled against this season. The Strikers smashed the Heat just over a week ago on the back of an Alex Carey hundred and a 66 run opening partnership between the skipper and Weatherald. The Strikers bowling unit has covered the loss of Rashid Khan as well as they can, with Peter Siddle, Wes Agar, Daniel Worrall and Danny Briggs producing in the star leg spinner’s absence. Agar’s breakout season has included good performances against the Heat with figures of 1/25 and 4/27 in his two matches against the Heat.
The Strikers are an experienced, finals-proven side that won the title just three years ago, while the majority of this Heat side doesn’t have any finals experience. The Heat haven’t handled pressure situations well this season and under the intensity of the finals, it’s hard to see their batting unit being able to cope under the pressure that the quality Strikers bowling attack will put them under. Chris Lynn has struggled against the Strikers which is a massive concern for the Heat. The consistency and the depth of the Strikers will hold them in good stead, as they’ll advance to take on the Thunder on Sunday.
Alex Carey has been utterly dominant against the Heat in recent times. The Strikers captain has smashed 101, 24 and 70 in his last three games against Brisbane and with that hundred coming in a 92 run win just over a week ago. The Heat’s bowling attack has leaked plenty of runs this season, and Carey will be full of confidence that he can continue his excellent run of form.
Carey is the fourth-highest run scorer in the BBL with 412 runs at an average of 34, with a strike rate of 126. The skipper’s been in excellent form since moving back to the top of the order, and will be eager to lead from the front after last season’s disappointing finals exit. Carey’s balanced game will be crucial for the big stage, under the pressure of the finals, you can expect him to stay calm and produce for his team.
Bryant has been a frustrating watch this season, consistently getting starts but failing to go on with them, scoring 302 runs at an average of 21 to sit inside the top 20 run scorers in the competition. Bryant’s aggressive nature at the top will be crucial to getting the Heat off to a good start in a high pressure match.
Bryant has scored at least 20 in nine of his thirteen innings this season and is overdue to turn one of these fast starts into a match-winning score. Chris Lynn has scored just 43 runs at an average of 10 with two ducks in his last four games against the Strikers. With Lynn’s struggles against Adelaide, Bryant is a smart choice as the Heat’s leading run scorer.
Same Game Multi
Leg 1: Strikers H2H
Leg 2: Carey 20+ runs
Leg 3: Labuschagne 10+runs
Leg 4: Bryant 10+ runs