Owais Shah has failed to get going in the past two matches. Image courtesy of cricket.com.au
The Hobart Hurricanes will be hoping that a return home will trigger a change in fortunes when they host Sydney Thunder at Blundstone Arena on Sunday afternoon. After opening their campaign with an 8 wicket win over the Heat in Brisbane, Hobart has suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of both Melbourne sides. Thunder has even more problems than Hobart, with three defeats this season extending the sides losing run to eight matches.
Since chasing down 172 against Brisbane at the Gabba in their first game of the season, many of the Hurricanes problems have centred on poor performances with the bat. Travis Birt and Owais Shah were amongst the best players in the competition last season but have failed to flatter since putting on an unbroken 95 run stand in the opening match. Birt has fallen for two single figure scores since, while Shah laboured to 14 from 29 deliveries against the Renegades after making just one against the Stars four days earlier. All-rounder Evan Gulbis was dropped to make way for Jason Krejza last time and he may be brought back in to reinforce the middle order, probably at the expense of paceman Michael Hogan.
Like their opponents, Sydney Thunder will be looking to get more out of a top order that has failed to deliver in three outings this season. Chris Gayle top scored with 53 against Hobart last season – one of the occasions that he scored the most runs for his team – but is yet to his those heights this campaign, with 20 runs from his two visits to the crease. Fellow import Azhar Mahmood has also disappointed with the bat to date and coach Shane Duff may elect to make changes to the side in order to snap an eight match losing streak. Rhett Lockyear was in good touch during the trial matches and could be worth another shot, while Simon Keen also deserves a crack after scorching 86 from 60 balls in the same match. Dirk Nannes has led his sides bowling attack admirably, with 5 wickets and an economy rate of 4.41 but needs more support from his teammates.
When these sides met at this ground last season, the Hurricanes ran out 5 wicket winners in a low scoring affair after being set 139 to win. That result was against the norm in the Tasmanian capital in the first Big Bash tournament, where the average score batting first was 167. The first 11 matches in this year’s competition were all won by the team batting second, but the advantage lies with the team setting a target in Australian domestic T20 matches in Hobart. Nine of the 14 played at the ground have been won by the team batting first.
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