This shapes up as a do-or-die contest for the Sydney Thunder after losing to the Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Renegades in their opening two matches of BBL 06. They are a shadow of the side that won last year’s tournament and as predicted by The Wolf are finding it difficult to replace the batting and experience of the likes of Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson. One shining light for the Thunder has been the form of opener Ryan Gibson, who has top-scored in the Thunder’s two matches so far. Watson will return from a calf strain to take on the Heat and give the Thunder some much-needed stability at the top of the order. Meanwhile, the Brisbane Heat will enter this clash at Spotless Stadium full of confidence after their victory over the Adelaide Strikers by 10 runs at the Adelaide Oval. The Heat posted a mammoth 206 led by Alex Ross (64), Jimmy Peirson (46) and Brendon McCullum (42). There’s no questioning the depth of the Heat’s batting when you throw in the likes of Chris Lynn, but the ability to bowl out sides remains a big issue as highlighted by their struggles to defend 206 against 206. West Indian spinner Samuel Badree bowled a crucial maiden over in the win over the Strikers, while Mark Steketee was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3/32. The Heat holds a 4-1 advantage over the Thunder and won last season’s clash at The Gabba by 6 wickets. Lynn was the hero for the Heat on that occasion with a match-winning knock of 75. This is the chance for the Thunder batsmen to find form against a weak Heat bowling attack, but the strength of the Heat batting line-up will keep the Heat in every contest this year and just might put too many on the board for the winless Thunder.
Bet: Brisbane Heat ($1.72)
Top Thunder BatsmanThe return if Shane Watson couldn’t come at a better time for a Thunder side struggling in the batting department and lacking leadership. Watson made 46 off 31, including five sixes in his last innings against the Heat.
Bet: Shane Watson ($3.75)
Top Heat BatsmanChris Lynn led all run scorers in BBL 05 with 378 runs and will be looking to build on the 29 he made in the win over the Strikers. As already mentioned, he top-scored with 75 last time he played the Thunder and it’s only a matter of time before he explodes.
Bet: Chris Lynn ($3.50)
Top Thunder Bowler Andre Russell was the only wicket-taker in the loss to the Sixers and was the top wicket-taker against the Renegades with 2/42. He led the Thunder bowlers with the figures of 2/28 in the loss to the Heat last season and looks the most likely of the Thunder bowling attack once again
Bet: Andre Russell ($3.75)
Top Heat BowlerSameul Badree was the top wicket-taker for the Heat last season with 9 wickets and while he only managed an economical 0/22 off his 4 overs in the win over the Strikers, The Wolf has no doubt that the wickets will come.