With both sides sitting precariously mid-table, a win is vitally important for both the Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers when they meet at the MCG on Tuesday night.
The Stars come into this game fresh off a convincing 46-run win in the Derby against the Renegades last Saturday. After being sent in to bat, the Stars finally put in a complete effort with the bat, not letting up after getting off to their customary fast start and finishing with a substantial 7/200 from their 20 overs.
Returning from a hamstring injury, opener Rob Quiney ignited the Stars’ charge with a blistering 51 off 30 balls, before effervescent Englishman Kevin Pietersen took over, blasting 73 off 46 balls, including seven fours and three sixes. Captain David Hussey ensured that Melbourne’s blitzkrieg did not fizzle out in the death overs, with his 27 off just 11 balls lifting the Stars to their first total of 200 since BBL03.
After watching the first three overs of the Renegades’ reply disappear for 30 there may have been some nerves in the Stars’ camp, however any fears were swiftly allayed by talented leggie Adam Zampa who captured 3/19 off four overs to trigger a collapse of 8/74, with the Renegades eventually stumbling to 9/154.
Zampa’s fellow spinner Michael Beer bounced back from conceding 23 off his first two overs to finish with 3/32 off four, however the Stars’ third tweaker Glenn Maxwell did not get the same chance, with his sole over costing 10.
The Stars will be without Maxwell, Zampa and all-rounder James Faulkner, who have all been called up to the Australian ODI squad, however they do welcome back test batsman Peter Handscomb.
The Strikers also enter this match off the back of a win, overturning the Hobart Hurricanes by five wickets at the Adelaide Oval on Friday night. Winning the toss and electing to field, the Strikers were soon firmly in the ascendency, reducing Hobart to 5/30 at the beginning of the sixth over. However Adelaide failed to land the killer blow and a record 89-run sixth-wicket partnership allowed the Hurricanes to drag themselves to a respectable 8/161.
English seamer Chris Jordan excelled for the Strikers, picking up 3/24 from four overs, however young leg-spinner Liam O’Connor had one of his poorer performances, finishing with 0/36 from his four.
Thankfully for Adelaide they had few troubles running down the target, hitting the winning runs in the penultimate over with five wickets to spare. For that they can thank destructive opener Ben Dunk, who finished unbeaten on 79 off 49 balls, while captain Brad Hodge continued his admirable form by chipping in with 30 from 20 balls.
Unfortunately for T20 specialist Jono Dean, a second successive duck is likely to see him omitted from the side, with talented left-hander Jake Lehmann in line for a recall. The Strikers have also been impacted by Australian ODI selection, losing gifted batsman Travis Head and towering quick Billy Stanlake, while they have also been hit by a hamstring injury to Jordan with Kiwi leg-spinner Ish Sodhi drafted in as an international replacement.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
There has been just the one game so far this season at the MCG in which the Stars failed to chase down the Renegades’ 4/171 in a rain-reduced match. Despite the wet conditions, the spinners were noticeably more effective in that encounter, taking a combined 5/100 off 15 overs compared to 5/218 in 23 overs from the quicks.
- The Stars have won eight of their past 12 matches.
- However the Stars have won only one of their past four matches at the MCG.
- The Strikers have won their last two matches against the Stars.
- However the Strikers have won only two of their past five away matches.
The Stars are being backed to continue their form from the Derby, installed as healthy favourites against the inconsistent Strikers.
On Saturday night we finally saw what the Stars were capable of when firing on all cylinders, especially with regards to their batting which put the highly-fancied Renegades’ bowling attack to the sword. There were also signs of more consistency with the ball, however it’s hard to assign too much weight to their performance in the field when they had so many runs to play with.
Back at the MCG there is no doubt they deserve to be favourites, however their recent record on home soil is not all that complimentary and with the added loss of their Australian representatives I can’t be convinced that they have turned the corner after just one strong performance.
The Strikers themselves do not have too much to show for their season, with their most recent victory over the lowly Hurricanes just their second of the season after surprising the Sydney Sixers at home. Although their opponents don’t have an exceptional record at home, the Strikers have dropped both games on the road in BBL06 and stretching back a bit further have won only two of their past five away from the Adelaide Oval. In their favour they have had a good run of recent results against the Stars, but again I’d prefer to see some evidence of sustained success before considering taking the bigger price about the underdogs.
While both teams may have been inconsistent throughout BBL06, one area where they have shown some consistency is in the number of fours they have hit. This season, two out of four matches involving the Stars have seen between 26-34 fours, with their average bang in the middle at 30 fours per match. Going back a bit further, six of the Stars’ past 12 matches have recorded between 26-34 fours so there is certainly a discernible pattern there.
Three of the Strikers’ five fixtures this season have registered between 26-34 fours, while if you extend the data it reveals that eight of Adelaide’s past 14 matches have also seen the amount of boundaries land in that region. With both sides possessing a fairly average net run rate, we are not anticipating a particularly high or low-scoring match and therefore will back the trend of 26-34 fours to continue.
Another trend of interest to us is the Melbourne Stars’ proficiency in the first half of their innings, averaging 92 in the first ten overs with three out of four ten over totals exceeding 90. At the bowling crease the Strikers have tended to leak runs early on, with their opponents averaging 75.6 in the first ten overs, including two totals over 80 and one that just fell short at 79. All things considered I would expect the Stars top three of Quiney, Wright and Pietersen to again be amongst the runs early in the piece and will therefore happily back the Stars to reach at least 80 after the first ten overs.
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