The opening semi-final of the Big Bash League takes place on Thursday when the table topping Hobart Hurricanes takes on the fourth placed side Melbourne Stars. Unlike in some 20 competitions around the world this is a straight knockout match. There is no second chance even for the regular season winners.
The winners of this match will go into Sunday’s final, which if it is Hobart will be on the same ground, while the losers will be licking their wounds, thinking of what might have been and get ready for next season.
You have to give credit to the Hobart Hurricanes, they have been the best team in the tournament by quite some way, but none of that matters anymore and it is all about what happens in this match. If they are beaten here then flowing when the pressure is off will mean little as their campaign will ultimately end in disappointment.
If you are a Hurricanes fan you just hope that their top order has two more destructive innings in them. If they do then we could well be looking at the champions but the concern I have is that despite their regular season domination, they go into the semi-final off the back of a defeat and although the match didn’t mean anything to them, confidence can be a fragile thing.
It looked like the Melbourne Stars had thrown away their place in the semi-finals when they passed up their first two chances to progress but when push came to shove they got the victory that they needed and are here to tell the tale. Interestingly, their final regular season match was basically a knockout match so it could be to their advantage that they have already had a do or die clash.
Earlier in the campaign there was an argument that they were the best team in the competition when at full strength. They went through a bit of a blip getting over the line in terms of making the semi-finals but now that they are here they probably don’t have a lot to lose and could be extremely dangerous from here on in with the international stars they have at their disposal.
James Faulkner comes back into the squad for this semi-final after he missed the last two matches due to injury. He comes in for Tom Rogers in the only change to the set up. Jofra Archer will get plenty of attention.
The Melbourne Stars have also made one alternation to their squad with Nick Larkin coming in for Jackson Coleman to strengthen their batting resources. Sandeep Lamichhane remains in situ to compete.
I thought about taking the Melbourne Stars in this semi-final because I think it is a 50:50 match and as such the 6/5 quotes on them winning would look very much on the big side but ultimately it isn’t a certainty and I’m already on the Stars to progress having backed them outright so I’ll look for my bet in another market.
That one comes in the form of the boundaries market where a line of 39.5 looks very much on the large side. Both matches between these two in the regular season got nowhere near this line and only one match all season has gone above it. With the match meaning so much and only being confirmed as being here a week ago it might not be the best wicket either. I don’t think this line gets covered.
WON – Back Under 39.5 boundaries for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with William Hill
Back it here: