The Melbourne Stars have already wrapped up top spot on the BBL09 table and the first round bye that comes with it, for the Brisbane Heat, the situation is quite different. Brisbane will likely need to win both of their remaining games to qualify for the finals, making this Saturday night's matchup at the MCG of upmost importance. Catch our preview and tips for the clash, which kicks off at 7.10pm, below.
Melbourne Stars Squad (13): Glenn Maxwell (c), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Dunk, Seb Gotch, Peter Handscomb, Clint Hinchliffe, Dilbar Hussain, Sandeep Lamichhane, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa
Sydney Sixers Squad (13): Jackson Bird (33), Tom Curran (59), Ben Dwarshuis (27), Josh Hazlewood (38), Moises Henriques (c) (21), Dan Hughes (16), Nathan Lyon (67), Steve O'Keefe (72), Josh Philippe (22), Lloyd Pope (7), Jordan Silk (14), Steve Smith (49), James Vince (9)
The Melbourne Stars are in the enviable position of having top spot on the table locked up heading into their last game. They have a 10-3 record through 13 games this season and are coming off a loss to the Strikers in their last clash. To be fair, they had secured the top spot on the table before their clash with the Strikers, meaning the trip to Adelaide wasn't super important for them. Their batting line-up when Marcus Stoinis doesn't perform is a bit of a worry, and he'll need to be big in the finals if the Stars finally want to lift their first trophy.
Pakistani pace bowler Dilbur Hussain has signed with the Stars as an international replacement for Haris Rauf, who was called up to the Pakistani T20 squad, while the inclusions of ODI players Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa strengthen the Stars depth. All in all, it's hard to fault the Stars this year, but one player who has struggled mightily is Nic Maddinson. The bit-part opener has scored just 107 runs in 10 innings at an average of 10.70 with just one score of 18+. You have to wonder how he is still getting a game to be honest, and in this form, his run line seems high.
The Heat's batting performances over their last three games have been absolutely dismal. While they are arguably the team most capable of going off for big scores of 200+, their batting line-up also looks completely susceptible to a collapse. In their last three games, they have been restricted to just 100, 120 and 126, losing all three games in the process. Although he didn't perform in his first game back, the addition of Marnus Labuschagne will no doubt add valuable depth to what has been a fragile middle order.
The fact of the matter for the Heat is, Chris Lynn needs to perform for them to be competitive. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the skipper. When he gets the Heat off to a good start in the power-play, they generally go on to make big scores. It's an absulte must win game for the Heat and the shorter straight boundaries at the MCG should suit the big hitting Lynn. He has a great record in T20 cricket at the MCG, smashing 196 runs at an avearge of 32.67. Back him to carry the Heat on Saturday night.
While the Stars have been the most impressive team of the BBL09 season so far, desperation goes a long way in T20 cricket. For the Heat, it is a must win game and for the Stars, it's practically a dead rubber where they will likely be trying out a few new things with both bat and ball. The Heat have genuine match-winners on their team and came into the season as title favourites. With us predicting Lynn to go big here, it would be a big contradiction to pick the Stars to win. Back the Heat to cause the upset and keep their finals hopes alive.