Our prediction is Hobart Hurricanes to win the semi-final match!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, it will be one of these teams as the Hobart Hurricanes take on the Melbourne Stars for a place in the Big Bash final. This is a repeat of the second game these two played in this year’s tournament, when the Hurricanes ran out six-wicket winners as they embarked on the winning start that set them on course for their qualification.
However, if the Hurricanes started brilliantly, the Stars have finished strongly thanks to a crushing 94-run win over the Sydney Sixers that clinched their place in the semi-finals. Over the course of BBL history, the Stars have the edge in this particular fixture, with six wins to four. They also have a 2-1 winning record at the Blundstone Arena.
The Hurricanes were the first side to book their place in the semi-finals and have been rewarded for their fine form all season with a home match as well. However, having been almost all-conquering at the start of the campaign, they have wobbled in the closing stages. They have lost three of their final five matches, going down to the Sixers, Sydney Thunder and the Adelaide Strikers.
Perhaps a touch of complacency sneaked in or they took their foot off the gas a little once qualification was assured. Either way, they need to get back to the form that saw them win five in a row at the start of the tournament. D’Arcy Short has scored 602 runs in the tournament, but it has been three matches since he notched a half-century – a bad time for him to lose form.
On the other hand, Matthew Wade has hit 590 runs and has passed fifty in four of his last six innings. If one or both fires for the Hurricanes with support from the likes of George Bailey and Ben McDermott, they can easily put their dip in form behind them. They should be expected to stick with the same line-up that beat the Melbourne Renegades at home even though they then lost to Thunder.
Matthew Wade (c, wk), D’Arcy Short, Caleb Jewell, George Bailey, Ben McDermott, Simon Milenko, Clive Rose, Jofra Archer, Riley Meredith, David Moody, Qais Ahmed.
The Melbourne Stars took a while to get going this season and were always in the midst of a run of wins or a run of defeats. They lost two in a row, then won two in a row, then lost three on the bounce, then won three straight games, followed by two defeats and then the win over the Sixers to get through to the semi-finals.
They could – and perhaps should – have qualified earlier but wasted chances against the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat. However, when the pressure was on against the Sixers, they delivered a phenomenal performance, led by Glenn Maxwell with the bat and Sandeep Lamichhane with the ball.
It was high time somebody stepped up to offer Marcus Stoinis some support with the bat and they showed how good they can be when everything comes off. With Lamichhane back the bowling attack is settled and covers all bases, meaning they will likely go in with exactly the same team that did a number on the Sixers.
Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Glenn Maxwell (c), Peter Handscombe (wk), Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Seb Gotch, Jackson Bird, Adam Zampa, Sandeep Lamichhane, Daniel Worrall.
There is some rain around in Hobart in the early part of the week but that should clear although it is forecast to be cloudy and cool on Thursday.
The Blundstone Arena has now hosted 33 completed domestic Twenty20 matches with the side batting second winning 17 times to 16. The average score batting first is 166. However, only once this campaign in five matches played at the venue has a side batting first gone on to win the game and that was the Hurricanes against the Renegades.
That statistic come about partly because every time the Hurricanes have won the toss at home this season, they have chosen to bowl first. The Stars have also fielded first every time they have been given the choice so expect the side winning the toss to want to bat second and chase down a target.
The Melbourne Stars always said they would finish the tournament strongly as they welcomed back international players and they have done exactly that – so much so that they come into this with a settled line-up and a good all-round bowling attack. However, the bookmakers make the Hurricanes the favourites and with them playing at home, that has to give them something of an advantage. The Stars have not won a game outside of Melbourne since they beat the Sixers in just their third game of the contest. At home, the Hurricanes should be too strong and we give them the verdict.
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