After shocking the Sydney Sixers in their opening match of BBL06, the Hobart Hurricanes will be looking to cause another upset by turning over the Melbourne Stars at Bellerive Oval on Boxing Day.
Written off prior to the start of the competition, the Hurricanes started their campaign with a bang, amassing 6/200 after being sent in by the Sixers at the SCG. Young opener Darcy Short exploded onto the scene, blasting 61 off just 29 balls on debut, including eight fours and three sixes. At the other end captain Tim Paine maintained a steady presence with 63 off 45, before all-rounder Dan Christian capped off the innings with a brisk 20 from 12 balls.
With the ball, left-arm orthodox Clive Rose picked up two early wickets to peg back the Sixers chase before tearaway Shaun Tait saw off a late charge to finish with 3/32 as the Sydney side were bowled out for just 140. The one concerning aspect for Hobart was the performance of both their overseas signings with Kumar Sangakkara only managing a scratchy 16 off 12 balls, while English quick Stuart Broad saw his three wicketless overs disappear for 35 in the process.
Middle-order batsman Dom Michael also completed the unfortunate feat of his third duck from as many innings in T20 cricket, which potentially paves the way for Jonathan Wells to reclaim a spot in the starting XI. Hobart will be looking to arrest a recent poor run of results at home where they have won just two of their past six.
The Melbourne Stars enter the tournament in the familiar position of boasting one of the strongest squads in the competition, however they will be without regular international guest Kevin Pietersen for their first fixture, leaving Pietersen’s countryman Luke Wright to pick up the slack. Pietersen’s absence could also open up an opportunity for enigmatic all-rounder Glenn Maxwell to bat a bit higher up the order after he impressed for the national side when opening in the T20I series against Sri Lanka.
The Stars will also be without middle-order ace Peter Handscomb (test duty) as well as spearhead John Hastings who has been booked in for knee surgery and replaced in the squad by young quick Jackson Coleman. Fringe Australian representatives Scott Boland and Daniel Worrall will now lead the attack, with canny all-rounder James Faulkner to provide the guile at the death.
Spin duties will be shared between young leg-spinner Adam Zampa and no-frills left-arm orthodox Michael Beer, while Wright and fellow opening batsman Marcus Stoinis provide some cover with their part-time medium pace. It is crucially important for the Stars to get off to a winning start in the competition, given that their squad is ravaged by international call-ups at the back end of the tournament.
The average first innings score at Bellerive Oval last season was a middling 5/165 with the side batting first winning three out of four games. Skipper Tim Paine enjoyed his time on home soil in BBL05, scoring 169 runs at Bellerive at an average of 56.33.
- The Hurricanes have won only two of their past six matches at home.
- The side batting second has won four out of five matches between the Hurricanes and Stars.
- The Stars have won six of their past eight matches.
- The Stars have won four out of six games against the Hurricanes, although the Hurricanes have won two of the past three.
The Hurricanes’ impressive performance on Friday was not enough to grant them favouritism with the Stars fancied to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Melbourne are the final side to get their tournament underway and thus are the one team we are yet to see anything from this season, however the good news is that their list bares a very similar resemblance to that from last season so we can give plenty of weight to their deeds in BBL05 where they finished runners-up. However the one area of concern surrounding the Stars is that they are missing three key players with Pietersen and Hastings particularly pivotal to their achievements last season.
The Hurricanes flopped in BBL05, dropping their last four games to finish seventh, however they looked a completely different outfit in their opening fixture last week, despite the fact that their resources do not appear any more impressive on paper. Hobart’s performance does come with a warning though as last season they managed to produce the odd stellar showing – such as their victory over eventual champions Sydney Thunder – in amongst a number of less inspiring exploits, although that’s not to say that their win over the Sixers should be completely overlooked.
It would appear that the market has responded to their dominant display on Friday night, however what has not been completely factored in is the impact of the Stars being without arguably their best batsman and best bowler. As such my first move will be to oppose to visitors, however I will look to trade out and lock in some profit given the inconsistency that has become synonymous with Hurricanes, as well as their poor record at home and against the Stars.
Additionally if you’re looking for a side interest it’s hard to go past the form of Hurricanes’ skipper Tim Paine who against the Sixers top-scored for the third consecutive match, making it the fourth time he has top-scored for Hobart in their last eight games. Moreover his form at Bellerive – where the Hurricanes have generally struggled – is excellent, averaging 56.33 in BBL05 and top-scoring twice, so there is no reason why he can’t repeat the dose and be at the top of the run charts for the Hurricanes again here.
LAY-TO-BACK – Melbourne Stars at 1.78 or better for 2 units (trade out at 2.35 or bigger).
BACK – Tim Paine Top Hobart Hurricanes Batsman at 4.00 or bigger for 1 unit.