Guns and flops: Keys to each BBL finals match-up
CRICKET: The Big Bash finals are here, with three teams vying for their first BBL title, and the all-powerful Perth Scorchers gunning for an unprecedented fourth in the competition's seventh year.
In the first semi-final, on Thursday night, the Scorchers will host the Hobart Hurricanes, who are taking part in just their third finals campaign, having finished runners-up in 2014.
On Friday, the Melbourne Renegades travel to Adelaide to take on the Strikers.
Neither team has reached a BBL final, meaning there will be history made at Adelaide Oval regardless of the outcome.
All teams have undergone some changes since the regular season finished, with some Australian one-day stars returning and others forced out due to the international Tri-Series set to get underway on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Adelaide Strikers captain Travis Head insisted his preference was to be involved in the Australian team, saying it was a greater honour to represent your country than play in the BBL finals.
"I want to be playing for my country," Head said.
"It's a little bit disappointing not playing for Adelaide, we have been in the mix for some silverware in the past and haven't been able to quite do it.
"To leave the boys in a nice position was nice and hopefully they can get the job done.
"But playing for my country is what I want to be doing."
We run the rule over each semi-final.
Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes
Time: 7.40 AEDT, Thursday Feb 1
Venue: Optus Stadium
The BBL's absolute powerhouses take on a Hurricanes outfit desperate to reach just their second-ever final.
The Hurricanes have been hit with a massive blow, with devastating opening batsman D'Arcy Short, the record-breaking slugger who has powered their campaign, leaving for the national duties. They have, however, welcomed back Test and ODI wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
The Scorchers, meanwhile, have hit the jackpot with the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitch, both expected to be available.
After starting their campaign struggling to field an 11 due to injuries and representative commitments, the Scorchers are suddenly having trouble squeezing all their stars in.
Shaun Marsh has yet to play since the Ashes, but is hopeful of being fit as he attempts to overcome a quad injury while brother Mitch returns from ODI duties.
Speedster Jhye Richardson, who has been with the Australian one-day outfit, is an unexpected addition, having earned a call-up to the Test tour of South Africa, which ruled him out of selection for the T20 Tri-Series.
All-rounder Ashton Agar is unavailable, having joined the Australian T20 squad.
The Scorchers have won their past seven matches at home, although Thursday's clash will be their first home game at the new Perth stadium, which hosted its first match in Australia's ODI loss to England on Sunday.
George Bailey: Bailey will need to pick up a lot of the slack left over from D'Arcy Short's exit, and certainly looked capable of doing just that with a brisk 32 from 20 in Hobart's last-start loss to the Melbourne Stars.
Mitchell Johnson: Johnson, meanwhile, was the star as the Scorchers romped to last year's title - dominating in the finals. The Scorchers are missing their two leading wicket-takers (Andrew Tye, 16 wickets, and Ashton Agar, 8 wickets) to T20I duties - leaving Johnson to again lead the way.
Joffra Archer: Of all the star imports to be thrown into the BBL this year, Archer has arguably been the most impressive. Bowling express pace, Archer has taken 15 wickets at under 20 - taking, on average, a wicket every 2.5 overs. With the Scorchers boasting some serious hitting in their top and middle order, the key to an upset lies in the Hurricanes' ability to take wickets early and often. Archer looms as the only man capable of ripping through the Scorchers' batting line-up.
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades
Time: 7.40 AEDT, Friday
Venue: Optus Stadium
Both teams are gunning for a maiden appearance in the BBL final.
The Melbourne Renegades are playing in just their second finals campaign, having bombed out despite finishing minor premiers in the competition's second year.
Life hasn't been much easier for the Strikers, who have finished twice on two occasions but missed out each time.
The Scorchers have been hit hard by international duties, with captain Travis Head, star wicketkeeper Alex Carey and speedster Billy Stanlake all unavailable.
The loss of the key trio led to South Australian Cricket Association chief executive Keith Bradshaw calling for a scheduling rethink so that each team's best players can feature in the most important games.
But that won't help them against the Renegades, who received a boost with veteran Cameron White returning to bolster his side's batting.
The Renegades are missing skipper Aaron Finch, although he's been absent since the start of the one-day series, and fast bowler Kane Richardson.
Colin Ingram - Ingram has taken the captaincy reins from Head, and could carry the heavy burden of replacing the run-scoring exploits of both Head and Alex Carey. The Strikers No.3 has been the team's second-highest runscorer this summer, but he'll need to take that to the next level on Friday.
Rashid Khan - The Afghan sensation has taken the BBL by storm this summer, finishing as its leading wicket-taker (17 at 13). Sadly, Friday will be his final appearance of the season regardless of whether the Strikers prevail or not - he'll be jetting out to join the Aghanistan national team. We're tipping the teenage superstar will make an impact on his way out the door. Is there time for another one or two more unplayable wrong'uns?
Tom Cooper: It's been quite a while since the Dutch international was on the Strikers' books, but you'd expect this match always grabs his attention given the bulk amount of his South Australian teammates Cooper will be facing. Cooper and Cameron White have been in stunning form for the Renegades this season, averaging 43.66 and 100.66 respectively, so if this turns into a shootout they'll be the ones looked at to send some long bombs into the Adelaide Oval crowd.