Source: Simon Cross/News Limited
The Adelaide Strikers and Perth Scorchers meet at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night, with a win for either side not only securing a berth in the last four, but also a home semi-final. Although the loser can still make the playoffs, both franchises will be determined to write their own script in the competition rather than having to rely on other results going their way.
Despite losing two of its past three matches, Adelaide remains in finals contention thanks to three victories in the opening four rounds. West Indian slugger Kieron Pollard played a key role in much of the Striker’s success but his stint with the franchise has come to an end. Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal was expected to replace him for this match but the move was blocked by the Pakistan Cricket Board but Australia Test spinner Nathan Lyon returns from international duty and will slot straight into the playing XI. Coach Darren Berry will also want to strengthen the Strikers batting in the absence of Pollard, and Travis Head could be rushed into the side after only joining the squad on Wednesday. Former skipper Michael Klinger has scored a half century in three of his sides four wins and will again be crucial to their chances.
Since opening the tournament with back-to-back defeats, the Perth Scorchers have won four of their next five matches and boast the second best net run rate in the competition, which could still see them qualify even if they lose. Opening batsman Shaun Marsh has starred in their revival to be amongst the leading runscorers in the competition and has averaged 83 in the past four matches. Retired Test star Michael Hussey was expected to join him at the top of the Scorchers team list but has instead opted to have some time off before linking with the squad. Paceman Joe Mennie replaces allrounder Marcus Stoinis in the party travelling to Adelaide but is unlikely to play given the strong form of the Perth bowling unit.
This will be the second time that these teams have met this season after Adelaide beat Perth by 6 wickets at the WACA in the opening round. That match was one of four this season in which the Scorchers batted first for just a solitary win. When chasing however, they are three from three this campaign.
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