January 18: Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers

Our XI

Josh Philippe, Alex Hales (capt), Daniel Hughes, Alex Ross, Callum Ferguson, Moises Henriques, Chris Morris, Daniel Sams, Tom Curran (vice-capt), Lloyd Pope, Liam Bowe

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant updates)

Captain: Alex Hales

Hales is Thunder's second-highest run-getter so far, but as much as his 254 runs, it is his strike rate of 138.79 that should get you interested. He's coming off a run of solid starts (31, 55 and 26 in his last three innings), and Thunder need him to make it big and lift them out of near-bottom of the table with time running out.

Vice-captain: Tom Curran

Curran has blown hot and cold at times this season, but on days he has come good, his performances have been cause of instant regret for fantasy players who have not made him captain or vice-captain. A 3 for 32 and 2 for 30 have been followed by a 0 for 52, and a four-wicket haul against Adelaide Strikers was followed by 1 for 58 against Marcus Stoinis' boundary barrage in Melbourne.

You'd be brave to punt on him as your vice-captain, but what's fantasy sport without a bit of that?

PS: A safer bet might be to go with Callum Ferguson.

Hot Picks

Callum Ferguson

Ferguson has been the one island of consistency in a Thunder middle order sorely lacking in runs. He has held the Golden Cap for the tournament's highest run-getter at different points early in the season, and as 302 runs at an average of 37.75 prove, is your banker with the bat.

Alex Ross

Ross hasn't been dismissed for less than 40 in five BBL games in 2020 so far, and strikes at a brisk 137.4 (this season), ideal for someone batting at No. 5 closer to the tail end of the innings. Made his highest score of the season in his last innings, and is worth getting into your XI.

Josh Philippe

While 277 runs suggest that it has been a good Big Bash season so far, Philippe's strike rate stands at an uncharacteristic 127.64, an indication of how he's often been tied down in the Powerplay. However, he's an impact player who has that match-winning knock in him just around the corner - you don't need to look beyond his 44-ball 81* and 52-ball 83* for proof.

Value Picks

Lloyd Pope

From an U-19 World Cup star in 2018, Pope is having the kind of season that could signal his rise from being a hot prospect for the future to a dependable weapon with the ball. An economy rate of 7.14 is creditable for a leggie, and given that he's managed 10 wickets from eight games to go with it, should be one of the first names on your team sheet at this point.

Liam Bowe

Left-arm wristspinners are a shoo-in to most fantasy XI just for sheer novelty, and Bowe has impressed in his first two games of the season over the past week. His T20 career-best 2 for 23 came in Thunder's last game, and at his price, he's worth punting on.

Points to note

  • The Sydney Showground has been marginally better for spinners when compared to pace bowlers, most specifically for wristspinners, who have 49 wickets since the 2016-17 season at an incredible economy rate of 6.64. It could be the day Pope and Bowe come good for their sides
  • Nathan Lyon is in contention for a Big Bash return, subject to recovering from a finger injury. So watch out for team news before you finalise your XI - he could potentially replace Bowe or one of the seamers. Our backup picks include Ben Dwarshuis and Jackson Bird [both Sixers]
  • Srinath Sripath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo