Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder
Sunday December 20, 7:25pm
Against all expectations the Melbourne Stars go into Sunday night’s clash off the back of a first-up loss against the Adelaide Strikers, while their opponents the Sydney Thunder were impressive last-start winners against city rivals the Sixers.
The Stars much-vaunted bowling attack conceded 67 off the last four overs on the way to Adelaide amassing 5/187 and may consider turning to the swing of Ben Hilfenhaus. Their powerful batting line-up threatened to overhaul the significant target, however fell 19 runs short with opener Marcus Stoinis the only player to score a half-century. The Stars will be eager to rack up as many points as possible prior to the start of the international one-day series when they will lose key all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner.
Meanwhile the Thunder will be looking to continue their excellent form following a 36-run win against the Sixers on Thursday. Usman Khawaja has been cleared to return but it may be a bowler in Chris Green who makes way given the amount of all-round options the Thunder have at their disposal, including Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis and Shane Watson. The ageless Mike Hussey will be looking to replicate his match-winning knock of 80 against brother and opposing captain David.
Last season the MCG favoured the batsmen with all four first innings scores reaching 150 or greater, while in the most recent game there the Stars thrillingly chased down 180 against the title-winning Perth Scorchers attack.
The match odds have the Stars strong favourites at 1.63 which is tough to justify given the performances of both these sides in their opening fixtures. It’s also worth remembering that the Stars can be slow-starters, losing their first three games last season.
Undoubtedly the Stars have a stronger team on paper but with their new-found confidence from a first ever derby win and a varied bowling attack capable of neutralising the home side’s considerable batting line-up I fancy the Thunder can take the points in this one.