Australia's Test openers to do battle in Big Bash eliminator

David Warner and Usman Khawaja have made a formidable opening partnership in Test cricket but today they battle in the BBL.

After 56 regular season matches and what feels like a small lifetime, the Big Bash is finally moving into the finals with the Sydney Thunder set to take on the Brisbane Heat in the first match of the final five system.

Whether a team like the Brisbane Heat should even be making finals with a less than 50 per cent winning record is a story for another day but it does feel far from ideal.

Then of course there is the Sydney THunder who finished with the worst net run rate in the competition thanks to being bowled out for a world record 15 against the Strikers and then again 62 later in the competition.

Going into the finals it seems inevitable that it will be a Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers final but of course, these teams will need someone to beat.

Then again, who knows T20 cricket is incredibly unpredictable and perhaps the Thunder or the Heat or maybe even the Renegades could put on an exciting run to take the title.

For now, though it's the Heat and the Thunder in what is set to be the battle between Usman Khawaja and David Warner. While neither man has performed to their abilities so far in the BBL and will need to leave the country before the finals are completed, they are the players the crowds will be coming to see.

With both sides winning low-scoring matches to finish the season on the final day, we could see a scrappy affair.

Especially on the Sydney Showgrounds pitch which has been known for low scores, especially late in the season. The average first innings score of just 137 puts it as the lowest-scoring scoring permanent ground of the season.

The key for the Thunder may be in the toss. The only time they have a better than 50 per cent record at Sydney Showground is when winning the toss and batting second. They have gone on to win 56.75 per cent of matches when that is the case.

However, the Heat may be looking to do the same thing with more than 85 per cent of away teams going on to win the match when winning the toss and batting second. The Heat also have the overall advantage coming into this match having won 10 of the 18 head-to-head matches between these sides.

The biggest battle between these teams though will be when the Heat strap on the pads and the Thunder bowlers get to work. In BBL12 the Heat have been the highest-scoring side, thanks in no small part to some fast-scoring innings by Josh Brown.

In contrast, the Thunder have conceded the least number of runs. However, the Thunder are the lowest-scoring side across essentially all metrics in BBL12.

So while the Heat may be lower placed on the ladder and playing away from home they must almost come into this match as favourites with the matchup against the Thunder being a very favourable one.

David Warner v Usman Khawaja

But of course, the battle is set to focus on our Test stars, David Warner and Usman Khawaja. That's not to say Marnus Labuschange won't also be making an appearance.

For Khawaja, it's the culmination of him making the move to Queensland permanently. He comes up against the Thunder who he captained for so long, returning to the Sydney Showgrounds where he's made so many runs in the past.

For Warner, it's the culmination of plenty of fighting with Cricket Australia to allow him to play in the BBL and get the money he needed to stay in Australia rather than go to the UAE as Chris Lynn did.

With averages of just 16 and 12.60 for Khawaja and Warner respectively this Big Bash, it might not seem like much of a battle but in some ways, this is about more than just one game. This match is about the future of the Big Bash.

It cost a small fortune for Warner and Khawaja to stay at the Big Bash, and in some ways, Warner replaced Khawaja at the Thunder. So much has been made about the Australian Test players coming back to the Big Bash and apart from Steve Smith, no player has really an impact.

This could be the last match for both men in BBL12 though with the Australian team set to jet off to India before the conclusion of the Big Bash.

The winner of this Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat clash will go on to play against the Melbourne Renegades on Sunday at Marvel Stadium.