Our prediction is Melbourne Stars to win!
Match 42 of the Big Bash League sees the Melbourne Stars host the Brisbane Heat in the first game since a two-day break over Australia Day (January 26).
These two sides come into the match in contrasting form. The Stars have won their last two while the Heat are without a win in two. Victory for the home side would put them back into the top four while the Heat badly need to get back to winning ways to keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.
These two sides met at a similar stage in last season’s tournament and the Heat went away from the MCG with a nine-wicket win having dominated proceedings. Heat have won the last five meetings between these two sides and six of eight overall. They have also never lost a match at the MCG, which is an ominous sign for the Stars.
However, that was then and this is now; the Stars have won three and lost two at home this season and prevailed over the Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Sixers away as well. Heat will certainly have their work cut out to maintain that winning run.
The Stars were expected to struggle when they lost Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa to Australia duty and they did, losing three in a row to Perth Scorchers, Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes. However, since their return they have made up for those losses with excellent wins over the Renegades and Strikers.
They now have Scott Boland available again after he played against the touring Sri Lankans, but they may choose not to make any changes from the side that did so well against the reigning champions. Stoinis tweaked his ankle during the win against the Strikers but will be fit to play.
Ben Dunk, Marcus Stoinis, Evan Gulbis, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell (c), Peter Handscomb (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Adam Zampa, 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 Heat started this season’s BBL campaign poorly, then had a good run to haul themselves back into contention but are now firmly back in a slump. After a stunning 101-win run over the Melbourne Renegades, they looked on course for defeat against Sydney Thunder when a power failure led to them taking a point apiece. They will have been relieved that Thunder’s appeal against that decision failed.
They were comprehensively beaten by the Sydney Sixers in their last match, despite winning the toss and choosing to field. As a result, they might consider making some changes. However, there are limited options for them and on a pitch that is generally good for batting, they may back themselves to hit their way out of a bad patch. They are missing James Pattinson through injury and with Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw on Test duty, they do not have huge strength in depth to call upon. Alex Ross has struggled since returning to the side and could make way for Sam Heazlett.
Max Bryant, Brendon McCullum, Chris Lynn (c), Sam Heazlett, Ben Cutting, Jimmy Peirson (wk), Josh Lalor, Brendan Doggett, Jack Prestwidge, Mitchell Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rehman.
Brendan Doggett, Ben Cutting, Matt Renshaw, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Lynn, Josh Lalor, Max Bryant, Jimmy Peirson, Brendon McCullum, Mitchell Swepson, Alex Ross
The MCG has been one of the better pitches this season and generally provided good batting conditions and high scores – the lowest match aggregate here this season is 293. It will be warm and dry during the end of the week and on matchday, so there should be no rain interruptions.
The MCG is one of Australia’s most iconic stadiums and a favourite venue among many players. The ground has now hosted 35 domestic T20s with the side batting second winning twice as often as the side batting first. The average score batting first is 157, and this season in the BBL that figure edges up to 160.
There is a clear advantage to batting second at the MCG and most teams have favoured doing exactly that here this season. Neither the Stars nor Heat have done anything other than field when they have won the toss so far this season. Both will likely want to chase.
The Melbourne Stars are in a good rhythm at the moment. Their Australia internationals are back and firing. All of their batsmen are contributing runs and they are not overly reliant on any one player. With Daniel Worrall making his way back some time soon and with Sandeep Lamichhane expected to return also, they are becoming a formidable outfit. Heat are in a bit of trouble and if their top order doesn’t fire, they will struggle to post a big enough score. Lacking back-up options, they can be expected to fall short against a confident Stars outfit.
Our prediction is Melbourne Stars to win!
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