BBL 9 Final (Saturday February 8)

Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars (7:15pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win ($2)

We’ve arrived at the final day of the BBL season and it is fair to say that the cricket gods were smiling at Thursday’s Challenger, because we’ll be treated to the Sydney Sixers against the Melbourne Stars – a top of the table clash to decide who reigns supreme.

The Sixers were good enough throughout the regular season to enter the finals as the second ranked side, but they have undoubtedly kicked up a gear in recent weeks and certainly in Sydney, are the team to beat. Stars like Smith, Lyon and Hazlewood returning to the fold has clearly had the desired effect and for mine, they should be sole favourites in match betting.

The Stars’ early season form really did set the benchmark for the competition and fittingly, they ended the round robin period of the tournament at the top of the table. They worryingly dropped four games in a row, however, but atoned with a comfortable win over the Thunder to gain passage into this. Their big hitters are obviously the key to their success and all eyes will surely be on Marcus Stoinis. If he is dismissed early, they surely face too great a task.

We managed to get a lovely multi over the line of Thursday, to the tune of $11.90, and I’m confident in the selections below for Saturday night’s BBL 9 Final.

The Challenger (Thursday, February 6)

Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder (7:10pm AEDT)
Stars to Win ($1.80)

The penultimate match of BBL 9 will be played out between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder at the MCG on Thursday night, with the winner to progress into Saturday night’s decider against the Sydney Sixers.

The Stars have been the league’s benchmark all season. Particularly early on, they were winning for fun and rightfully, ended the regular season first in overall standings. There recent form, however, has been terrible and they enter this match off the back of four-consecutive losses. Obviously, they need to win this, or their terrible post season record will be built on and they will be out of the running again.

The Thunder were reasonably inconsistent throughout the regular season but have found form at the right end are take all the momentum into this. A dominant win over the Hobart Hurricanes was franked with another smart performance and win over the Strikers in Adelaide, and they will be quietly confident of repeating that effort and result here.

If they cricket gods are smiling, the Stars will walk out of this one and into the final. With everything on the line, I think their Stars (pun intended) will stand up to be counted.

The Knockout (Saturday, February 1)

Adelaide Strikers vs Sydney Thunder (7:40pm AEDT)
Strikers to Win & Khan 2+ Wickets ($2.60)

The Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder will meet in BBL 9’s third final on Saturday night, with the winner progressing to a one in three chance of championship glory and the loser sent packing for another year.

The Strikers have returned plenty of quality performances this campaign and enter the BBL finals off the back of a pleasing 8-5 regular season. They did drop their most recent match to the desperate Hurricanes but won four in succession ahead of that and their best form would find them extremely difficult to beat here.

The Thunder were given little hope of beating the Canes in Hobart but proved far too good and will take plenty of confidence and momentum into this. Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja and captain Callum Ferguson remain the key to their success. If all three stand up, they can win through to the final three.

Qualifying Final (Friday, January 31)

Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers (7:10pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win ($1.91)

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. The top of the table clash between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, with the winner to progress straight into the BBL 9 decider on Saturday week.

It’s been a largely outstanding season for the Stars, who really have been the league benchmark since Week 1. Worryingly, however, they have lost three matches in succession leading into this, including one to the in-form Sixers. Nothing short of a sharp turnaround in form will be required for them to win this but given the talent they have at their disposal, there is every chance they will do it.

The Sixers returned plenty of pleasing efforts to finish the regular season with a 9-4 record but have probably found their best form at the perfect moment. The inclusion of names like Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith have clearly had an enormous impact on the ethos of this side, and a repeat of any of their recent performances would find them extremely difficult to beat again.

4th vs 5th (Thursday, January 30)

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder (7:40pm AEDT)
Hurricanes to Win & Sams 1+ Wicket ($2.37)

The regular season is done and dusted and the finals for BBL 9 will begin in the Apple Isle on Thursday night, when the Hurricanes host the Thunder.

Against all odds, the Hurricanes, who were staring down the barrel of the wooden spoon no more than two weeks ago, have absolutely stormed home and finished fourth – ultimately setting up this home final against the shaky Thunder. Three wins in succession, capped by a ten-run win over the in-form Strikers has clearly filled their sails with wind, and they will be extremely difficult to beat at Bellerive Oval.

The Thunder will take winning form into this match after seeing off the Scorchers on Duckworth Lewis on Sunday, but they lost two on the bounce prior to that, including one at the hands of the Hurricanes. They would need to improve noticeably to be winning this.

Saturday, January 25

Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Renegades (2:40pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win & Lyon 1+ Wicket ($2)

The Sydney Sixers are understandably resounding favourites to beat the last-placed Renegades at home this afternoon.

The Sixers have found another gear at almost the perfect point of the season and will be eager to tune up for the finals with another good hit-out and win over the Renegades. They never looked troubled in Thursday night’s easy win in Brisbane and it’s tough imagining a different result materialising in Sydney this afternoon.

The end of the season has almost arrived for the struggling Renegades and nothing more than pride is on the line for them today. To their credit, they have won two of their last three, but they probably face too great of a task in the Sixers.

Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat (7:10pm AEDT)
Stars to Win ($1.80)

The Melbourne Stars have slipped into a worrying form slump, but they’re faced with a terrific opportunity to bounce back into winning form at the expense of the Brisbane Heat tonight.

Following a near faultless campaign, the Stars appear to have run out of puff right in time for the finals; suffering defeats to the Strikers and Sixers at their two most recent appearances. What’s particularly damning is those two opponents are probably their biggest threat in BBL 9 and they’ll need to quickly find their previous form, if they aren’t to bottle their chances yet again this season.

The Heat looked like a side building towards a serious finals tilt, but the wheels have almost completely fallen off and they’ve lost four of their last five, including three in succession leading into this. I think winning this is now a bridge too far for them.

Friday, January 24

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder (6:10pm AEDT)
Daniel Sams 2+ Wickets ($2.70)

Fresh off a season-saving win, the Hurricanes return home and are offered another good opportunity to keep the campaign alive when they line up opposite the Sydney Thunder.

Its largely been a season to forget for the Canes, but a rare win over the Melbourne Renegades on Tuesday means that they are still a mathematical chance of finishing the regular season in the top five, albeit extremely slim. Nothing short of a win here will be necessary.

The Thunder have mixed their form quite a bit since the beginning of the year and have lost two of their last three. There is no doubt that this match looms as a far better opportunity for them than their last-start hit-out in Perth, but it’s still going to be tough. I’m staying away from head-to-head betting, as a result.

Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers (9:10pm AEDT)
Strikers to Win ($2)

The match of the day will take place in the nation’s west tonight and a key meeting between the third-placed Adelaide Strikers and fourth-placed Perth Scorchers.

The Scorchers’ slow start to the season is well and truly in the rear-view mirror and they now loom as a typically dangerous force in BBL 9. An easy win over the Thunder on Tuesday puts them in good stead to make it two in a row, particularly in returning home.

The Strikers have bounced back into form following a midseason slump and they look to be a legitimate title contender in their own right. A win here would go a long way towards locking in a spot in the top three.

Thursday, January 23

Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Sixers (7:10pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win ($2.10)

Following the worst collapse in all of BBL 9, the Brisbane Heat will attempt to reverse their fortunes at home on Thursday but face a big task in the form of the Sydney Sixers.

Absolutely cruising at 0/80, the Heat looked on track for an easy win over the last-placed Renegades, but lost ten wickets for only thirty more runs, in what was an embarrassing evening in front of their home fans. They be eager to atone with a win, but everyone will need to stand up.

The Sixers have continued to get the result, regardless of how ugly they look a lot and they enter this off the back of an impressive win over the league-leading Stars. They are currently available at odds of $2.10 to win this match and I am more than happy to be with them.

Wednesday, January 22

Adelaide Strikers vs Melbourne Stars (7:10pm AEDT)
Stars to Win ($1.80)

An interesting match looks like materialising in Adelaide tonight when the Strikers, who have returned to excellent form recently, take on the league-leading Melbourne Stars, who are fresh off a rare loss.

The Strikers dip in form earlier this month now appears to be a memory and they are seeking a third win in succession when they step out tonight. The return of prodigal son Travis Head has clearly had an enormous effect, and the side will be confident of taking the W and ultimately keeping pressure on at the top of the table.

The Stars were potentially undone by the inclement weather and the shortening of their match with the Sixers on Monday, but a loss is a loss and they will need to regroup immediately to overcome this formed opponent. I think they will.

Tuesday, January 21

Melbourne Renegades vs Hobart Hurricanes (7:10pm AEDT)
Renegades to Win & Boland 1+ Wicket ($2.64)

Bragging rights are on the line when cellar dwellers the Renegades and Hurricanes do battle in Melbourne this evening.

It’s obviously very much a case of too little, too late for the Renegades, but they are two in a row leading into this match and are offered an excellent opportunity to make it three at the expense of the second-to-last Hurricanes.

The Canes are down and out, and the end of the season simply cannot arrive quickly enough. Three wins and seven losses is how the ledger currently leads, and it’s tough imagining them adding another ‘W’ at this point.