Big Bash: Richard Mann previews the semi-finals of the Big Bash

George Bailey
George Bailey

Richard Mann previews the latter stages of the Big Bash as Hobart Hurricanes bid to finish an impressive campaign by lifting the coveted trophy.

Recommended bets: Big Bash

3pts Hobart Hurricanes to win the Big Bash at 9/4


Hobart Hurricanes ended the group stages of the Big Big sitting pretty at the top of the table following a campaign where they firmly established themselves as the best side in the competition.

George Bailey's men must now finish job, firstly with a semi-final against Melbourne Stars on Thursday before a potential final clash with either the Sydney Sixers or Melbourne Renegades.

Following a breathtaking start to the season that yielded five consecutive wins, the Hurricanes actually dropped off a little bit once their semi-finals spot was assured towards the back-end of the group stage but I fully expect them to prove a different animal now there is something on the line again.

As far as T20 teams go, they certainly look to have most bases covered; a dynamic opening partnership in D'arcy Short and Matthew Wade, power in the middle order in Ben McDermott and a highly-skilled and varied bowling attack spearheaded by Jofra Archer.

Jofra Archer - plenty to celebrate
Jofra Archer - plenty to celebrate

As spoken about in this column many times before, Archer is an X-Factor cricketer who is quickly forcing his way into England's World Cup plans and his 17 wickets and counting here this season is another illustration of the threat his genuine pace brings.

With James Faulkner and Riley Meredith also enjoying successful campaigns with the ball and Short, Wade and George Bailey all averaging well in excess of 40 with the bat, the Hurricanes really do boast a host a match winners.

With Wade leading astutely from the front, I expect the boys in purple to go all the way this year having fallen at the final hurdle 12 months ago and the 9/4 on offer for them to lift the trophy on February 17 is well worth taking.

After years of disappointment, their semi-final opponents, Melbourne Stars, have finally started to fulfill their potential this term - hardly a glowing reflection on stalwart Kevin Pietersen who retired at the end of last season - and they have grown into a dangerous and well-balanced outfit.

Nevertheless, they aren't the finished article yet and still look a little thin in the batting department if Marcus Stoinis or Glenn Maxwell aren't able to fire.

Marcus Stoinis
Marcus Stoinis

Stoinis has enjoyed a terrific campaign with the bat, making 476 runs at an average of 59.50, and much will rest on his shoulders if the Stars are to push the Hurricanes close.

In the second semi-final, Sydney Sixers booked their last-four spot having won five of their last six group games while their opponents, Melbourne Renegades, arrive here on the back of a consistent season which helped them finish second in the final table.

The Sixers have a lovely knack of punching above their weight, though overseas signings Tom Curran and James Vince have added a touch of class and strong returns to complement the likes of Daniel Hughes and Steve O'Keefe who have also contributed strongly.

Tom Curran and Josh Philippe of the Sixers celebrate
Tom Curran and Josh Philippe of the Sixers celebrate

If pushed, the Sixers probably look a touch of value at 11/10 to seal a place in the final but the Renegades have proven a very dangerous side on their day and must be respected.

For all the Renegades' batting has yet to really fire this season, the likes of Aaron Finch and Sami Harper pose a serious threat while Harry Gurney and Kane Richardson - 24 scalps in this year's competition so far - can take wickets up front and at the death.

A fascinating watch is in prospect but whoever progresses, they will have their work cut out if they meet the irresistible Hurricanes in the final.

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