Resurgent Heat underestimated, especially given toss bias



Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers
Thursday, 08:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport

We’ve reached the penultimate match, The Challenger, with Sydney Sixers awaiting the winner in the final. The match-up is one that very could have predicted, even just a few days ago.

Miraculous Heat revival gathers steam

Matched at 55.054/1 earlier in the tournament, they’re less than a tenth of those odds now. They’ve now won four on the bounce whereas previously dominant Perth lost their last two. They met in their final group match, which Heat won by six runs.

Proof if ever it were needed how domestic T20 is incredibly random and changeable. Throughout most of the group stage, there appeared to be a substantial gulf between the two sides. Yet they were ultimately only separated by three points – equivalent to one win.

Evidently, it is dangerous to form strong conclusions based on short-term form, but one would expect it to be reflected by the betting. Yet Scorchers start clear 1.784/5 favourites to defy that recent formbook.

Heat line-up much stronger now

This also ignores the logic behind Heat’s improvement. At one stage, they were without their top four batsmen. Chris Lynn was injured, Joe Denly yet to arrive, Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns on international duty.

Now all re-united, this is a strong unit with middle-order finishing prowess to come via Jimmy Peirson. Labuschagne has been a revelation, especially with the ball.

Nevertheless, player for player, Heat do still look inferior. Perth have the best bowling attack in the competition and three batsmen with over 350 runs, headed by Colin Munro on 441. Four average over 32.0.

Batting second offers a huge advantage

A further reason to question the one-sided betting is a clear toss bias. The last six matches at the Manuka Oval went to the chasers, most by convincing margins. Of the last ten matches, the only two to be won by defenders came after a 200+ score.

Opposing Heat has proved extremely expensive and, under these circumstances, makes no sense. I’m inclined to think 2.265/4 is fair value but will instead try and employ the ‘25% rule’. Place an in-play order to back them at 2.89/5.

Take out those two 200-plus totals and scores at the Manuka Oval have been fairly consistent. In the last 11 the lowest 1st Innings Runs total was 149, with six falling between 163 and 177. Par is around 165 but 180 needed to feel confident of defending.

The leading candidates on both sides for Top Runscorer will be hard to beat. For Scorchers, Jason Roy leads at 11/4 ahead of Munro at 3/1 and Liam Livingstone at 16/5. Choosing between this line-up doesn’t appeal.

Backing Chris Lynn at around the 11/5 mark would have proved a very reliable strategy. He’s won seven times in 12 matches for Heat.

Try star bowlers for man of the match

The Golden Arm may be settled today. Jhye Richardson is on 27, three clear of Mark Steketee, who has duly earned an international call up. Could one of them rise to the occasion and produce something special? Why not? Take 14/1 and 17/1 respectively about the two star bowlers for Man of the Match.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty