Man of the Match: Ben Dunk
Melbourne Stars to win
Our prediction is Melbourne Stars to win!
Fresh from an excellent win in the Melbourne derby, the Melbourne Stars host reigning champions Adelaide Strikers in game 39 of the Big Bash League. The Strikers might be reigning champions but they carry little recent form into this match, which will be the first BBL game ever played at the Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe.
These two sides met once last season at the Adelaide Oval, when the Strikers won by eight wickets with eight balls remaining. Earlier this season the Stars again failed to come away from the Oval with any points as the Strikers ran out winners by 41 runs.
During the BBL, the head-to-head is even with four wins for either side. While the Strikers have won four of the last five, they have never beaten the Stars away from their home ground – but both sides are playing a brand new venue in this game.
The Melbourne Stars have overcome plenty of challenges this season and remain firmly in contention for the semi-finals. They lost their first two matches but managed to bounce back and have recently had to handle losing four players to international duty. The absence of Glenn Maxwell and co. meant they weren’t at full strength against the Strikers a few days ago but their win over the Melbourne Renegades proved just how good they are when they can call upon their best players.
They have the added bonus of being able to welcome back Scott Boland for this match after the quick bowler played against the touring Sri Lankans. With fellow pacer Daniel Worrall making his way back to full fitness, things are looking very rosy indeed for the Stars the longer the tournament goes on.
With Boland available again and their internationals back, they could choose to strengthen their bowling and leave out Ben Dunk or Evan Gulbis, neither of whom has impressed in the last couple of games. However, with uncertainty around what sort of pitch is expected, they could play safe and name the same team as last time out.
Marcus Stoinis, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb (wk), Glenn Maxwell (c), Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Liam Plunkett, Scott Boland, Adam Zampa, Jackson Bird, Tom O’Connell.
Dwayne Bravo, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Nic Maddinson, Tom O'Connell, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk, Glenn Maxwell
The Strikers are hovering around the semi-final qualification places but two heavy defeats in their last two matches threaten to make it difficult to win through. Very little went right when they were hammered by Sydney Thunder as only two players reached double-figures and they couldn’t handle Shane Watson. More of the same came to pass against the Hobart Hurricanes, who hammered them by 10 wickets earlier this week.
They are becoming heavily reliant on Colin Ingram to score their runs and if he doesn’t perform, they could be in real trouble. The Strikers used seven bowlers against the Hurricanes but still failed to get a wicket – a sign that they had exhausted all options.
Having Alex Carey back from ODI duty is a boost and he at least made a start against the Hurricanes but they need him and others to give them more than that. Ingram will captain with Travis Head absent and they may name the same team in a bid to get themselves back into some form – if the pitch does a bit they have the bowlers to do some serious damage and Rashid Khan should always be a threat.
Alex Carey (wk), Jake Weatherald, Matt Short, Colin Ingram (c), Jonathan Wells, Rashid Khan, Cameron Valente, Michael Neser, Billy Stanlake, Liam O’Connor, Ben Laughlin.
Michael Neser, Jake Lehmann, Ben Laughlin, Matthew Short, Colin Ingram, Alex Carey, Jake Weatherald, Liam O'Connor, Billy Stanlake, Rashid Khan, JW Wells
The weather in Moe this week is hot and dry and there is almost no chance of interruptions due to bad weather. The stadium is one usually used for Australian Rules and other sports so both sides will have to adapt quickly to a drop-in pitch that could be unpredictable in nature.
The Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe has never hosted a BBL game and will not host another one this season making it a one-off that both teams may find hard to prepare for. While grade cricket is played in and around Moe, this is the highest profile match the area has ever seen. The stadium can hold 7,500 spectators.
With no statistics on previous matches and no idea about the pitch until they see it, it might be an obvious call for both of these sides to invite the other to bat first and see if they can judge what a par score is. The Stars have fielded each time they have won the toss, but the Strikers have been more reticent to bat first. However, after two defeats batting second, will they dare to change that approach on an unknown surface?
The Strikers might be defending champions, but you would not know that from the way they have struggled in their last two matches. Time is running out for them to nail down a semi-final place and the competition is really hotting up. Not least in the shape and form of the Stars, who could get even better as the league stage concludes as players return from injury and other tournaments. High on confidence, this is a return home for them, albeit to a new venue. That is perhaps the only thing that could scupper them; if everything goes to form, Strars should beat the Strikers in this one.
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