Strikers Hope For Happy Homecoming

Source: Simon Cross/News Limited
Michael Klinger top-scored for the Strikers against the Thunder. Image courtesy of News Limited/Simon Cross
Adelaide went perilously close to being the first team in two years to lose to Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash on Friday night but the Strikers somehow scrapped their way to victory despite Mike Hussey’s brilliant 85 in just his second game for the western Sydney outfit. The pitch at Homebush has never been easy to bat on, but the Strikers made it look like really hard work at times and needed a late push from Nathan Reardon to push the target above 150.

A team which defended an even smaller total last round was Perth , with the Scorchers somehow holding the Renegades to just 111 off their 20 overs after reaching 117 with the bat. Surprsingly, Simon Katich was the only one in the Scorchers’ line-up who went at better than a run-a-ball, but the key to Perth’s win was the performance of debutant paceman Yasir Arafat . While Australian audiences haven’t seen much of the Pakistani, he is one of the best T20 bowlers in the world and his changes of pace had the Melbourne side in all sorts of trouble on his way to figures of 3/15 off four overs. Strikers skipper Michael Klinger played in the England T20 competition against Arafat, but it will be a challenge for the whole Adelaide line-up against a player with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. One man who will be a key is Alex Hales , who has also come up against the three-Test paceman during Arafat’s stints with Sussex and Somerset.

After starring with the bat in round one against Brisbane, Mitchell Marsh did the damage with the ball this time. He showed why he’s such an exciting all-round prospect picking up 2/15 off four tight overs and troubled the visitors with bounce and movement off the pitch. He won’t get the same assistance in Adelaide and the short square boundaries mean quicks have to think twice about dropping short.

These teams split their matches last season, with the away side winning on both occasions. The tournament’s leading run-scorer, Shaun Marsh , led the run tally for Perth in each of the two contests. Forgotten Test batsman Phillip Hughes was instrumental in the Strikers’ win at The Furnace with a quickfire 74. Surprisingly in the match at the Adelaide Oval, pacemen took 10 of the 14 wickets that night on what can be a spin-friendly deck, with Alfonso Thomas and Nathan Coulter-Nile picking up three each. Chinaman Brad Hogg has been the star with the ball so far for Perth, though, going for just 21 runs in both of his first two games, and he also grabbed three scalps against Brisbane.

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