Hurricanes v Scorchers

Picture: Phil Hillyard/news.com.au
Ricky Ponting has top scored in Hobart's past three matches. Picture: Phil Hillyard/news.com.au
The Hobart Hurricanes  play the first of three consecutive home matches when they face the Perth Scorchers  at Blundstone Arena on Tuesday. With just two finals spots likely to be on offer for the Hurricanes, Scorchers and Strikers, this match could well go a long way to deciding who reaches the final four in the competition and both sides come into it at the top of their game. Hobart has scored easy wins over both Sydney teams at its past two outings, while Perth extended its winning streak to three with a 51 run victory over the previously unbeaten Renegades on Saturday night.

Since faltering twice on its trip to Melbourne, Hobart’s top order has finally clicked in the past two matches, with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting  - who has top scored in his sides past three matches – leading the way, and it is no surprise that this has led to a change in fortunes for the Hurricanes. Travis Birt  has been the only player to miss out recently, with just 25 runs from four visits to the crease since scoring a match winning 57* against the Brisbane Heat in the season opener. He is likely to remain at four however, with Aidan Blizzard  retaining his place at the top of the order in an unchanged lineup on the back of a scintillating 48 against the Sixers. Evan Gulbis returns to the squad in place of Scott Boland after recovering from injury, but Scott Styris is still unavailable due to domestic commitments in New Zealand.

Perth has turned around a poor start to its campaign by winning three in a row to move into fourth on the Big Bash table, level on points with the Hurricanes but ahead of them on net runrate. Shaun Marsh  and Herschelle Gibbs  have been key to their side’s recent success, with both scoring half centuries against the Renegades. The pair form a lethal opening partnership  and average more than 60 when batting together at the start of the innings in the Big Bash. Gibbs’ countryman Alfonso Thomas has also been a revelation since coming into the squad, with eight wickets in just three matches.

Hobart defeated Perth by 31 runs when these sides met in the inaugural season of the Big Bash after batting first. Batting first has been a distinct advantage in domestic Twenty20 matches played in Hobart, where 10 of the 15 matches have been won by the side setting a total. 16 of the 21 Big Bash matches this season have been won by the chasing side however.

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