By Ronny Lerner, Omnisport
The Perth Scorchers head into their clash with the Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Sunday night still searching for their first win of the new KFC T20 Big Bash League campaign.
This encounter might be a rematch of last season's final, but Perth have so far looked anything but top-two material.
While it may be a little early to completely write off the Scorchers given they've only played two matches so far, there's no doubt they are already feeling the pinch because if they suffer another defeat on Sunday they would have very little room for error in their last five matches.
Last year, four wins were required to make the BBL finals, and with each time playing an extra match in the preliminary phase of the competition this season, four to five wins looks to be the likely pass mark.
And the Scorchers are going to need a dramatic form turnaround if they are to avoid a dreaded hat-trick of losses.
Perth were woeful in their last outing on Wednesday night, skittled for just 69 at The Furnace by the Melbourne Stars with Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga tearing through the hosts with record figures of 6-7.
They ended up losing by 10 wickets under the Duckworth-Lewis method and have now lost their first two home matches which means, with only two more engagements left at The Furnace, they need to rack up some road wins - starting with the Sixers.
But it's going to be a tough task with the Sixers' tails up following their convincing first-up seven-wicket win over cross-town rivals the Thunder last week.
Adam Voges v Luke Feldman
Scorchers batsman Voges didn't have a memorable knock against the Stars, but when your team fails to reach 70, you're not going to be alone.
He only made 14 and his strike rate was less than 100 before being trapped lbw by Shane Warne but he still hit Perth's second-highest score.
It was his performance three days prior against the Adelaide Strikers that was a true reflection of what he is capable of with the former Australian representative smacking 58 off 41 including six boundaries.
He looms as a key to Perth's chances and if he faces up to in-form Sixers paceman Luke Feldman, the SCG crowd will be in for a treat.
Feldman started the BBL with a bang, claiming an economical 2-19 from his four overs against the Thunder, including dangerous duo Martin Guptill and Chris Rogers, to be the pick of his team's bowlers.
The Scorchers are in dire need of a match-winner and they could very well get that in the form of South African import Alfonso Thomas who looks set to make his first appearance for Perth against the Sixers.
Thomas is regarded as a Twenty20 specialist and has proven to be an extremely effective bowler in the shortest form of the game with his medium pacers yielding him 173 career wickets at an average of 21.58.
The Sydney Sixers were crowned the inaugural Big Bash League champions when they defeated Perth by seven wickets.
The Scorchers got off to a nightmare start when they were reduced to 2-2 by Brett Lee (2-21 off four overs) but Mitch Marsh (77 not out off 55 balls) stepped in to rescue the innings and help his side to a competitive 8-156.
However, that total always looked in danger of being a few runs too short and after openers Moises Henriques (70 off 41) and Steve O'Keefe (48 off 46) set up the run chase with a 110-run partnership, there was only ever going to be one outcome as the Sixers reached 3-158 with seven balls to spare.
Facts and figures:
The Scorchers' total of 69 against the Stars was the lowest ever score in Australian domestic Twenty20 history.
The major reason for Perth's embarrassment, Malinga, claimed the second best domestic bowling figures of all time with 6-7.
Only two batsmen, Voges and Hilton Cartwright (17), reached double figures in the Scorchers' shambolic innings. Herschelle Gibbs, Simon Katich and Nathan Coulter-Nile all made ducks.
Just one of the Stars' five bowlers used against the Scorchers went for more than a run a ball and that was Clint McKay (0-28 off three overs).
Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin played a leading role in the Sixers' first win against the Thunder, smashing 59 off 48 balls including three sixes and three fours at a strike rate of 122.92.
Four of the Sixers' five batsmen on the night had strike rates of over 100.