The Big Bash League has now entered its play-off stage as five teams continue to push for the title in 2020.
After weeks of T20 action as teams played each other home and away, the contenders have finally been whittled down to five. Melbourne Stars, Sydney Sixers, Adelaide Strikers, Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Thunder all progressed from the group stages. The bottom three of Perth Scorchers, Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades all bowed out of the tournament.
The top two teams, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, will now do battle in the Qualifier match at the MCG on Friday for a place in the final.
The loser goes on to face the ‘best of the rest’ in a second semi-final contest. This is part of the BBL’s new play-off system introduced this season.
The Hurricanes and Thunder clash on Thursday for the right to play the Strikers in Adelaide on Saturday as the other side of the draw takes shape.
Who are the favourites to claim the BBL09 title?
After an impressive league campaign, Stars and Sixers head the market out of the five sides to make it this far.
Melbourne are made the slight 2.50 (6/4) favourites despite losing their last three games of the league stage. They have, though, been boosted by the return of star paceman Haris Rauf for the play-offs.
However, despite the top two now being handed a double chance of making the final, there is still likely to be a few surprises along the way.
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Which team can cause an upset in the play-offs?
Like with all T20 clashes, momentum is key to success.
One team that heads into the play-offs in decent form is Hobart Hurricanes. They have won their last three games and go into this phase of the tournament in good spirits.
They have bagged victories over Melbourne Renegades, Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers in recent weeks.
While there are no major surprises in those successes, it bodes well to have that winning mentality for this crucial stage. The standout showing came against the higher-placed Strikers last time up.
They will take on the Thunder in the Eliminator stage for the chance to meet Adelaide once more.
While going all the way might be a tough ask, they could still be value to be had by betting on them to reach the final. They are available at 5.50 (9/2) to make the end-of-season showpiece.