The MCG hosts the top of the table clash on Sunday night with the 7-1 Stars taking on the 6-2 Sixers. Both sides are well ahead of the pack so we could be witnessing a BBL final preview.
Melbourne Stars Squad (13): Glenn Maxwell ©, Hilton Cartwright, Jackson Coleman, Ben Dunk, Seb Gotch, Clint Hinchliffe, Sandeep Lamichhane, Nick Larkin, Jonathan Merlo, Lance Morris, Haris Rauf, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall
Sydney Sixers Squad (13): Justin Avendano, Jackson Bird, Tom Curran, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Moises Henriques ©, Dan Hughes, Ben Manenti, Steve O'Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk, James Vince
The Stars continued their impressive season by chasing down 168 against the Renegades at Marvel on Friday. Coulter-Nile and Lamichhane both picked up 2 wickets and Rauf was economical as usual. It was rare to see Stoinis out for a duck off the 3rd ball of the Stars innings. However, Maxwell played a brilliant captains knock of 83 not out off 45 balls to get his side home. They’ve now won 5 straight games and will start as clear favourites in this clash. A big change for the Stars will see them rest Nathan Coulter-Nile and they’ll miss his wicket-taking ability in the powerplay. So Worrall is his likely replacement.
The Stars skipper is putting on a masterclass of how to chase totals in T20 cricket and there’s no reason why that should change in the top of the table clash. He’s coming off 7 sixes in his 83 not out against the Renegades and has previously scored 59* and 40* at the MCG. The MCG isn’t the easiest ground to clear the boundaries but Maxwell is playing smart cricket shots instead as the Stars love to chase totals at the venue. So look for Maxi to stand up again with good value odds to reach 30+ runs again. To top it off, he also scored 82 off 43 against the Sixers at this venue last February.
Sydney continues to win the close games with 4 straight victories after batting second and head to Melbourne with the confidence of causing a boilover. Recently, they beat the Strikers twice in the space of a few days. In Coffs Harbour, Josh Philippe played a match-winning knock after 83 not out in their chase of 177. While in Adelaide, Tom Curran led the way with the ball, taking 4 for 22. Pope and Dwarshuis also picked up 2 wickets as the Strikers were bowled out for 135. The Sixers didn’t really build many large partnerships but everyone contributed starts to the chase. In the end, an unlikely batting hero in Josh Hazlewood came through in the late stages with 12 off 3. In extra good news, they’ll welcome back Henriques and that will probably see Edwards miss out in the middle order. However, they will miss Josh Hazlewood as he heads to India for the ODI tour.
Tom Curran is the key man for the Sixers with his death bowling and late order hitting. He’s played some major roles in the Sixers chases lately so a 10+ run total at $4.50 seems incredible value. He’s coming off 21 off 20 at the Adelaide Oval and he’s cleared 10 runs 4 times this season despite batting around number 6. The Sixers are probably going to bat first if the Stars win the toss so look for Curran to lead the way in the late overs for the magenta side.
The Sixers continue to be underrated in the betting odds at huge odds of $2.40 to beat the red-hot Stars. So we’re taking on the underdogs. They have a well-rounded squad with a lot of experience that can trouble the Stars. They bat down to around number 8 and their bowling lineup is full of wicket-takers. Meanwhile, the Stars are without Coulter-Nile and they will miss Zampa on this wicket. So if the Sixers can get Stoinis out early, it does expose an inexperienced lower order outside of Maxwell.
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