Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Stars
Friday December 18, 7:40pm
On Friday night last season’s surprise-packets Adelaide Strikers host perennial favourites Melbourne Stars.
The Strikers will be looking to replicate their first-place finish from last season and go into this year’s tournament with a similar looking side, particularly with the bat where Craig Simmons, Tim Ludeman, Travis Head, Brad Hodge and Alex Ross will all feature. A knee injury to star recruit Keiron Pollard ruled him out of the entire competition with Mahela Jayawardene filling the breach. There are a few more changes to the bowling attack with veterans Shaun Tait and Johan Botha departing along with young leg-spinner Adam Zampa. English leggie Adil Rashid is the only notable addition to the bowling ranks which will once again rely heavily on Ben Laughlin and Kane Richardson.
The Stars are once again the pre-season favourites to take out their first ever title, having never failed to finish outside the top four. They do look the strongest side on paper in the competition and should be at full-strength for their opening fixture. English imports Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen headline the batting but have plenty of support from the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and captain David Hussey. With the ball the variety of James Faulkner and John Hastings is complemented by the spin of Zampa and Michael Beer as well as the swing/seam of Ben Hilfenhaus and Scott Boland. Despite losing established players Cameron White and Clint McKay there are very few holes to pick in this Stars line-up.
Last season the Adelaide Oval belied its reputation as a batsman’s paradise with only one first innings total in excess of 150 which came in the semi-final when the Sydney Sixers amassed 4/181 in the process of eliminating the Strikers from the tournament. Zampa will be happy to return to his old home ground, having averaged 26 at an economy rate of just 6.5 in games at Adelaide last season.
In regards to Match Odds the Stars are deserved favourites, however there’s not a great deal of value in the 1.6 available. I’d prefer to focus on the surprising lack of runs at the Adelaide Oval. Whilst I could not oppose the Stars strong batting line-up, nor have too much faith in a Strikers attack now without Zampa, Botha and Tait, if the home side bat first there may be an opportunity to take on the 150 runs line, especially given the quality and depth the visitors possess with the ball and the fact that Adelaide look like having a relatively long tail with Rashid as high at seven.
If Adelaide Strikers bat first, LAY – First Inns Runs 150 or more at 2.00 or shorter for 1 unit.