The four spots in the semifinals of the Big Bash League (BBL) 2015-16 have been booked by Adelaide Strikers, Perth Scorchers, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder.
The Strikers have been almost invincible in this edition of the BBL, having lost just one match out of the eight they played. They sealed a home semifinal quite comfortably.
The most consistent team of the BBL history, Perth Scorchers, have reached yet another semifinal. They could have booked a home semifinal, too, but were completely outclassed by the Stars by 52 runs in their last game of the group stage.
Melbourne Stars made a remarkable turnaround this season. They were off to a really slow start but went on to win a number of games in a row to assert their dominance in the league.
The surprise entrants in the semifinals are the Sydney Thunder. The Michael Hussey-led side was off to a fliying start in the BBL 2015-16, but lost their way in the middle of the tournament after losing three games in a row. Their chance of qualifying in the final four depended on Melbourne Renegades. Chris Gayle was well on course of knocking the Thunder out of the league, but Travis Head of the Strikers removed him. The Renegades lost the game and as a result the Thunder sneaked into the last four of the BBL 2015-16.
This has been an exciting tournament so far. From Chris Gayle's controversial sideline interview to Hussey's retirement from the T20s, it all happened during this league. Now, we are down to four teams who will battle it out for a place in the final.
Adelaide Strikers will start as clear favourites despite being the weaker team on paper on Thursday against the Thunder. Head, who earned a place in the T20 squad of Australia against India, has been in scintilating form with the bat. He has also picked up a number of wickets this season. Andre Russell and Shane Watson will look to turn things around for the Thunder as these two are equally dangerous when it comes to ripping apart a bowling attack. They are handy with the ball as well.
Meanwhile, Perth Scorchers will look to cement a place in the final of the BBL 2015-16. They will miss the services of Shaun Marsh at the top of the order. The good news for them is Joel Paris is back in the squad after his not-so-impressive show against India in the first two ODIs.
The Stars also have a number of players who are away on national duty — Glenn Maxwell, John Hastings. But they also have the likes of Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen to put up a tough challenge.
The fans have two crackling games on Thursday and Friday to witness.
Big Bash League semifinals schedule:
1st semifinal: Adelaide Strikers vs Sydney Thunder
Venue: The Adelaide Oval
Timings: 7:40pm local time (2:10 pm IST, 9:40 am BST)
Date: 21 January, Thursday
2nd semifinal: Melbourne Stars vs Perth Scorchers
Venue: The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Timings: 7:20pm local time (2:10 pm IST, 9:40 am BST)
Date: 22 January, Friday
TV listings: Star Sports 1/ HD 1 (India), Ten Network (Australia), Sky Sports 1/HD1 (UK) and Willow TV (USA).