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After a tussle that last for almost two months, we finally have the five teams who have progressed to the next round in Big Bash League 2020-21. It went down to the wire as we didn't have the top-five sides until the last league match was played. Given the teams we now have, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the deserving teams have qualified.
The first playoff match is set to be played between Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers on 29th January 2021. The winner of this match will have another test to pass through but the losing team will be eliminated. It will be a battle of survival when the two teams meet at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane and a cracker of a contest is certainly on the cards.
Brisbane Heat happened to be one of the last teams to secure a playoff spot, but they didn't have to depend on the result of any other game. They finished the league stage with 29 points to their name with a net run-rate of -0.286. Considering that they defeated Perth Scorchers in their last match, the Heat will be brimming with confidence.
Brisbane Heat didn't get off to the kind of start they were hoping for and the injury to arguably their main player in Chris Lynn didn't help their cause. Ironically, it was the moment that brought the team together and Brisbane Heat bounced back into the scheme of things. Brisbane Heat gained in strength with every passing match and once Chris Lynn returned, they appeared to be a formidable lineup.
To qualify for the playoffs, the Heat needed to win both of their last two matches and they did so in style. Marnus Labuschagne played a match-defining role in both those matches and he is expected to be the Heat's most-important player in the upcoming matches as well. Brisbane Heat have a tough road ahead as they'd have to win four matches in a row to lift the title. Having said that, they wouldn't be looking too far ahead yet, and winning this upcoming match will be their prime focus.
Not only has Labuschagne contributed with the bat, but also he has been brilliant with the ball. The presence of Labuschagne allows the likes of Max Bryant and Chris Lynn to play their natural game at the top as having someone like Labuschange in the middle-order can provide significant comfort to any team. Although Burns and Denly haven't fired for Heat in the last couple of matches, the Heat wouldn't be worrying yet. The duo adds to the experience in the middle-order and with the dynamic lower middle-order, Heat's batting lineup is one of the best in the competition.
With the ball, however, Brisbane Heat do not have the same firepower and the absence of Mujeeb Ur Rahman is hurting their chances as well. Their bowlers have so far blown hot and cold and would need to put up an inspirational performance going forward. If that happens, Brisbane Heat could be a tough team to deal with, not just for the Strikers but for all the teams Heat are to face next.
Sam Heazlett, Chris Lynn, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Denly, Joe Burns, Jimmy Peirson, Lewis Gregory, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett, Mitchell Swepson, Ben Laughlin.
Adelaide Strikers are perhaps the most fortunate team among those that have qualified for the playoffs. They needed Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Stars both to lose their respective matches on the final day of the league stage and that happened. Consequently, they sneaked in with 28 points written against their name with a net run-rate of 0.105.
A couple of days before the fixtures for the playoffs were concluded, the Strikers were in a pretty decent position. However, they lost charge after being in positions of strength and eventually had to rely on luck to qualify for the playoffs. Just like Brisbane Heat, the Strikers have a tough road ahead as far as winning the title is concerned.
On paper, the Strikers have a terrific team that has struggled for consistency. Alex Carey scored a fantastic hundred in the last match and a lot will be dependent on Carey for Strikers to do well in this upcoming contest. With the ball, they are clearly missing Rashid Khan who won't be available for the rest of the season. With the likes of Carey, Weatherald, and Phil Salt, the Strikers have a terrific batting unit, but none of their batsmen have been consistent enough. If they are able to put their best foot forward, Strikers will truly stand a strong chance tomorrow.
Alex Carey, Jake Weatherald, Philip Salt, TM Head, Matt Renshaw, Michael Neser, Daniel Worrall, Danny Briggs, Wes Agar, Liam O'Connor, Peter Siddle.
It is a tough match for both sides but a couple of days of rest would have been of immense help. Both sides are heavily reliant on their batting and it might well turn out to be a contest where bowlers govern the outcome. Brisbane Heat are playing at their home ground where they have enjoyed a terrific record this season. Besides the presence of Marnus Labuschagne and the form, he is in adds to Heat's advantage. Considering the two sides on paper and their recent respective performances, betting on Heat's win should be the way to go here.
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