After a regular season that seemed to drag on for an eternity, the 2018-19 Big Bash League playoffs finally get underway this Thursday! The Hobart Hurricanes, Sydney Sixers, Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars will playoff in the two semi-finals on Thursday and Friday night before the final on Sunday!
Today we take a look at the first semi-final which sees the Hobart Hurricanes facing off against the Melbourne Stars from Hobart on Thursday night!
BBL08 Semi Final Betting Tips
Hobart Hurricanes vs Melbourne Stars
Thursday 14th Feb 7.30pm (Blundstone Arena, Hobart)
The first semi-final sees the Hobart Hurricanes, who have been the best team in the league throughout the regular season and who finished on top of the BBL08 ladder, facing off against the Melbourne Stars. The Stars just snuck into the top four after winning their last game of the year against the Sixers but have been nearly unbeatable with a full-strength side in throughout the regular season.
Led by the dynamic opening partnership of D’Arcy Short and Matthew Wade, the Canes finished the BBL08 regular season with 10 wins from their 14 games, two wins clear on top of the table. Short and Wade were No.1 and No.2 respectively on the leading runscorers table, compiling nearly 1200 runs between them and averaging over 100 runs every time they strode out to the centre.
The dominance of the opening pair does have its downfalls, however, as the middle to lower order for the Canes has scarcely been needed throughout the season and could have wavering form coming into the finals series. Youngster Caleb Jewell played some handy innings in the No.3 spot while George Bailey and Ben McDermott were good in limited roles in the middle order, however, so much relies on Wade and Short to get the Hurricanes off to a strong start whether they are setting a target or chasing.
The Hurricanes will get a massive boost in the bowling department on Thursday night as their leading wicket taker, James Faulkner, looks set to return from injury. Faulkner has been great in his first season for the Canes, claiming 18 wickets in 12 games at a fantastic average of just 19.27 while Jofra Archer and Riley Meredith sit right behind him on 17 and 16 wickets respectively. The three-pronged pace attack is damaging with the ball while Archer and Faulkner in particular can provide handy runs down the order as well.
D’Arcy Short and South African Johan Botha have taken 18 wickets between them as the team's tandem spinners this year, offering a good blend between off and leg spin.
It’s been an up and down year for the Melbourne Stars that has culminated in them getting back into the finals after missing for the first time in BBL history last season. They lost their first two games of the season but then went on to win their next three in a row before losing the star quartet of Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis and Peter Handscomb to ODI duty. The loss of the core saw the Stars lose their next three games and the return of them resulted in another three-game winning streak.
While Zampa, Handscomba and Maxwell add great depth with both bat and ball, Marcus Stoinis has been the barometer for the Stars throughout the year. He currently leads the BBL in both batting and bowling averages among qualified players, having compiled 476 runs at a ridiculous average of 59.50 and taken 14 wickets at just 14.07.
Stoinis’ last seven scores read as follows: 34, 70*, 53, 43, 49, 81, 34. Opening the batting, Stoinis rarely fails and goes out in the powerplay, meaning that the Stars have gotten off to great starts with the bat in the majority of their games this season.
For the amount of success, the Stars have had in BBL history, they have only reached one final, which they lost to the Perth Scorchers in the 2016-17 season. They have made the semi-final and lost in five of the seven previous BBL tournaments and will go in as underdogs in Hobart on Thursday night.
It’s hard to look past the Hobart Hurricanes here, especially at home. They have barely put a foot wrong all season, losing just four games including one dead rubber at the end of the season. The Hurricanes are 5-0 at Blundstone arena this season and are 6-1 in all home games, their only loss coming at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston.
We think the Hurricanes win at home and advance to their third BBL final.
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