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how the BBL Qualifier could be won

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The two best teams in the competition have very few weaknesses and both sides may need to be bold in trying to exploit any weak link

Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers are unequivocally the two best BBL teams and Saturday night’s Qualifier looms as a mouth-watering clash.

It also has huge ramifications in the title race. The teams split their two meetings this season based on where they were played. The Scorchers thumped the Sixers in Perth, but the Sixers provided an emphatic response in their second meeting at Manuka Oval. The Qualifier will be played at Manuka Oval but the winner will gain direct entry to the BBL final and will also get to host it. The reward for winning is massive.

After a 14-game regular season, there is plenty of evidence as to how the two teams are likely to line up, but these are three key areas that could decide the contest with views from the BBL’s player acquisition and cricket consultant Trent Woodhill.

New-ball Powerplays vital

The game could well be decided in the two Powerplays. Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff have been arguably the best new-ball pairing in the competition with Richardson claiming the most wickets in this year’s BBL. Jackson Bird has taken more Powerplay wickets than any other bowler this season while Steve O’Keefe has been straggling teams and Ben Dwarshuis was Player of the Match in the win over the Melbourne Stars thanks to his Powerplay exploits.

Both sides have explosive Powerplay batting with Josh Philippe and James Vince looming large for the Sixers while Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, and Colin Munro have been setting games up for the Scorchers.

“I think it’s whoever bowls the best, not so much in the Surge, I reckon it’s actually the Powerplay,” Woodhill said.

“If Richardson has a day out and gets through Philippe and Vince then it brings Hughes and Henriques in early. But the same can be said about Ben Dwarshuis, if he deals with the threat of that top four from Perth.”

Behrendorff may be the big threat for Philippe. Left-arm pace is his significant weakness, averaging just 19.66 against it and striking at 104.42. Behrendorff knocked him over for 5 in Perth. Three of Philippe’s five dismissals for single-figure scores in this BBL have been against left-arm seamers with Sam Rainbird dismissing him in the last game against the Stars in the first over while James Faulkner trapped Philippe lbw for 1 in the first game of the season.

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