Richard Mann is back to preview to latest action from the Big Bash - he has 11/1 and 13/5 selections for Thursday and Friday's matches Down Under.
The question many have been asking in recent weeks is: 'are Adelaide Strikers a one man team?'
With Rashid Khan having now left the competition to fulfil his international commitments, we are about to get our answer as the Strikers face a tough trip to Melbourne to face the Stars on Friday.
The Strikers currently sit third in the table having won five and lost five so far this season, but Khan's absence, coupled with a recent injury to Peter Siddle, means this terrific bowling attack is shorn of two of its biggest weapons and much responsibility will now fall on the shoulders of Wes Agar.
The seamer is enjoying a terrific tournament, his bustling pace and reliable yorker earning him 17 scalps already and putting him firmly in the mix to finish the season as the leading wicket-taker in the competition.
Agar is one of those bowlers with that priceless knack of consistently picking up wickets, and looking at the attack the Strikers will take onto the field on Friday, he is sure to be entrusted to bowl a good chunk of his overs at the death.
With all that in mind, Agar looks a fair price at 13/5 to be the top Strikers bowler in the match.
Given the already-discussed absences facing the Strikers, it is no surprise to see the Stars priced up as clear 8/11 favourites for this clash, but despite the depth of class in their line-up, they have only won once in their last seven matches.
Having been beaten finalists in each of the last two season's, the Stars had seemed likely to mount another bold title bid, but their over-reliance on the bat of Marcus Stoinis appears to be catching up with them while Haris Rauf has yet to really click into gear since re-joining the Melbourne outfit this year.
I still think there is enough quality in the Stars camp to see them finish the campaign on a high, and fancy they can make home advantage count here, but 8/11 is skinny enough for a side struggling for wins and short of confidence so I'm happy to leave the outright betting alone and stick with Agar for my only bet of the day.
Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades endured identical starts to this season's Big Bash - crushing defeats and sloppy cricket characterising the early part of their seasons - but their respective fortunes have gone in a different directions since.
While the Heat have won three of their last four matches, and only narrowly missed out against Sydney Sixers at the weekend, the Renegades are currently rooted to the foot of the league table despite gaining a much-needed victory over Adelaide Strikers last time out.
It has been a dreadful campaign for the 2018/2019 winners with captain Aaron Finch desperately short of runs and their bowling relying far too heavily on Kane Richardson.
Despite having so much talent in their batting ranks, Finch will be disappointed with the lack of consistency shown by his side in that department and with Shaun Marsh not certain to return on Thursday, it's hard to predict what they will produce against a dangerous Heat bowling attack on Thursday.
Still, chasing down 178 against a good Strikers attack will have done their confidence plenty of good and while their hero from that match, Mohammad Nabi, has now left Australia to join up with the Afghanistan national team, 18-year-old Jake Fraser-McGurk can continue to make a name for himself.
While Nabi blasted away against the Strikers, it shouldn't be underplayed just what a crucial role Fraser-McGurk played in that chase - calmly stroking 29 from 23 balls to defy his inexperience and the pressure of the occasion.
While his opportunities have been limited so far, I really like what I've seen from Fraser-McGurk with Nabi now out of the picture and the Renegades chances of winning the tournament gone, Finch must surely now be thinking about building towards next season and giving his younger players more exposure in the remaining matches.
That could easily put Fraser-McGurk in the mix for a spot in the Renegades top five and given losing early wickets has been a feature of their season thus far, he might well find himself at the crease with plenty of overs to play with.
As such, he looks worth a small play at 11/1 for top Renegades batsman honours, particularly now there is no Mujeeb Ur Rahman to worry about in the middle overs following his departure from the Heat camp for international duty.
Posted at 1410 GMT on 13/01/21
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