December 21: Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers in Canberra
Our XI: Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Gilkes, Callum Ferguson, Alex Hales, Jonathan Wells, Philip Salt, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Rashid Khan, Billy Stanlake
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates
Captain: Callum Ferguson
We are going safe on this one with the in-form Ferguson. The Strikers, with Stanlake, Rashid and Siddle in their attack, could pick up early wickets, so we pick the Thunder’s most reliable middle-order bat for captain.
Vice-captain: Alex Carey
Carey will have the responsibility with the bat for the Strikers, who don’t have the best batting order in the competition. With two fifties and a hundred for South Australia, he comes in with form.
Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales
Sixty-plus scores in the last game from the two openers make them key to the Thunder’s batting plans. If not both, you can certainly expect one of them to fire again. Of the two, Khawaja is the more consistent, while Hales does blow hot and blow cold. One of them could easily be your captain or vice-captain too.
Rashid loves the BBL. In the last two seasons, he had 37 wickets at an economy rate of 5.93 and 45% of his deliveries were dots. He had a below-average T20I series against West Indies in Lucknow, but he was Striker’s leading wicket-taker last season, and without Ben Laughlin and Michael Neser, he will have a lot of wickets to pick.
Salt is a fearless striker of the ball, and lit up the scene at the Abi Dhabi T10 recently. With a strike rate of 150-plus in 47 innings, he brings plenty of T20 experience too.
He has four wickets from his first two games and can get in among the wickets again against what is an average batting line-up. Sams also gives you a bit extra because if the Thunders lose early wickets, he can get in among the runs too.
Point to note
With Thunder winning two in two, it’s safe to pick more of their players, especially batsmen. After a poor last season and a new coaching set-up in place at the Strikers, it makes sense to wait before backing their players.