With three straight victories, the Brisbane Heat have climbed into the top five and now control their own destiny as they strive for just a fourth BBL finals participation.
With just seven games left in the KFC BBL|12 regular seasons, five teams are vying for the last three finals positions, with the Scorchers and Sixers already assured of the top two spots.
The Scorchers will claim a fifth top-of-the-table finish and secure hosting rights for The Qualifier next Saturday if the Sixers fail to defeat their crosstown rivals the Thunder in tonight’s Sydney Smash at the SCG.
When the finals series begins on January 27, the Scorchers will be vying for a historic fifth BBL triumph, while the Sixers will be going for a record-equaling fourth Big Bash victory.
With 23, Andrew Tye leads the list of wicket-takers. Jason Behrendorff (17) and the injured Jhye Richardson (15) complete a potent first-choice pace attack.
Richardson, who is battling a hamstring ailment, is anticipated to return for their finals campaign, but Englishman David Payne and Australian Test squad member Lance Morris have offered enough cover throughout his recovery.
After routing the Strikers at Adelaide Oval with 53 balls remaining, the Scorchers are one point away from earning another top-of-the-table finish in the 12th edition of the competition.
If Perth defeats the Renegades on Sunday night or if the Sixers drop one of their final two contests, Perth will host The Qualifier on Saturday.
After a rocky start to their BBL|12 campaign in which they lost all three draught picks before the competition began, the Scorchers’ local talent has once again kept them in good stead throughout the league as they chase a record fifth championship.
Faf du Plessis started the fireworks early in the season, but Josh Inglis and the newly promoted No. 3 have since taken over.
If the Sixers win today against their local rivals the Thunder, they will still have a chance to take first place. If they lose, they come in second place and will travel to Perth the following Saturday Final Race for BBL12.
With a victory over the Strikers in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday night, the Sixers booked their seventh consecutive appearance in the playoffs thanks to an incredible century from Steve Smith, the only Sixers man to reach the milestone in club history.
And only they can dethrone the Scorchers from first place if they win their final two matches and the Scorchers lose their final game against the Renegades.
They will be confident in giving themselves every opportunity to add wins with two games left to finish the season against clubs behind them on the ladder.
Only Sean Abbott’s 19 wickets stand out among some of the other top competitors so far in the league, demonstrating the experienced Sixers’ teamwork.
Four of their eight victories have came by fewer than seven runs or in the final over when chasing, with veterans Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, and Dan Christian all stepping up when it mattered most.
The Renegades have enjoyed a pleasant return to form after spending the previous three seasons firmly in last place, but if they want to reach the finals for the first time since their BBL|08 championship season, they still need to win at least one game.
Despite losing to the Thunder on Thursday night, Aaron Finch’s team is still in third place despite having missed a great opportunity to virtually guarantee a spot in the finals.
Prior to playing their final match against the Strikers at Marvel Stadium, where they have lost only once all season, they will play the Scorchers in Perth this coming weekend.
The Renegades’ season began with three straight victory, and despite being soundly defeated by the table-toppers Scorchers and Sixers (twice), two victories in the Melbourne derby have kept them in the top five throughout BBL|12.
The batting order for the ‘Gades has been stabilised by wicketkeeper Sam Harper’s three half-centuries in his three innings prior to the Thunder defeat, and Will Sutherland’s all-around development has been essential to their ascent up the standings as they carry Melbourne’s title hopes on their shoulders.