Our prediction is Hobart Hurricanes to win!
Match 31 of the Big Bash League sees Melbourne Stars host Hobart Hurricanes looking to get one back on their visitors who beat them by six wickets when the roles were reversed earlier this season. The Hurricanes were just starting a winning run at that point but having lost for the first time last time out, they will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
When these two met at this venue last year, the Stars won a close game by three wickets with five balls remaining. They lead the head-to-head 6-3 and have won four games to the Hurricanes’ two at this venue. Overall, they have a 18-15 record at the MCG including one win and one defeat this season. That matches the Hurricanes’ record away from home, suggesting this could be a close battle.
The Stars are now on a run of two straight defeats after losing to Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers, and that run has come at a bad time. With Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis all away on ODI duty, they have not been done many favours by their schedule and need their other squad members to step up to the mark.
That did not happen against the Strikers, where they were undone by spin bowling and only Evan Gulbis and Dwayne Bravo, who notched 30s, got going with the bat. Liam Plunkett has quickly settled since joining to replace Sandeep Lamichhane but despite taking four wickets, he was expensive – as was Bravo.
Although Nic Maddinson is back in the side and is now captain, he has only just come back from injury and is clearly not yet anywhere near his best. He desperately needs his team-mates to help him out. Simply because they have so few options to call on, they may be unchanged for this match.
Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson (c), Seb Gotch (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Jonathan Merlo, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, Scott Boland, Liam Bowe.
Dwayne Bravo, Jonathan Merlo, Liam Bowe, Nic Maddinson, Tom O'Connell, Sebastian Gotch, Liam Plunkett, Jackson Bird, N Larkin, Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk
The unpredictable nature of Twenty20 cricket was in evidence last time the Hurricanes were in action as everything seemed to point to them beating the Melbourne Renegades only for them to suffer a six-wicket defeat. That was on a tricky surface and a more even pitch at the MCG ought to be more to their liking.
Unlike the Stars, the Hurricanes are completely unencumbered by ODI call-ups. However, although Tim Paine is not in action for the national team, he may be rested as he prepares himself for the Sri Lanka Tests. In that case, the Hurricanes will almost certainly name the same team for the seventh match in a row.
With Tymal Mills injured – and no overseas replacement yet brought in – there are very few obvious changes the Hobart side can make. They will likely trust the guys that won five in a row to be good enough to overcome their loss against the Renegades, particularly with George Bailey now coming into some strong form with the bat.
Matthew Wade (c, wk), D’Arcy Short, Alex Doolan, Ben McDermott, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Johan Botha, Jofra Archer, Clive Rose, Riley Meredith
Matthew Wade, Riley Meredith, Jofra Chioke Archer, Clive Rose, Johan Botha, J Doran, D'Arcy Short, Simon Milenko, George Bailey, James Faulkner, Ben McDermott
It is forecast to get warmer and dryer as the weekend goes on with gameday also expected to be hot. That might dry up the pitch and offer spinners a bit more assistance although it could just speed things up a little.
The MCG has produced a good wicket – perhaps one of the best in this season’s BBL – for both of the matches played there so far. It has favoured the batsmen more than the bowlers, but that is surely what T20 cricket is all about and makes a change from some of the slow, tacky wickets elsewhere. In 34 domestic T20 matches at the MCG, the side batting second has won almost twice as many times as the side batting first.
With that particular statistic in mind, both captains might fancy having a bowl if they call correctly. The Hurricanes have chosen to field first four times this season and won on each occasion, all of those victories coming at home. The Stars, meanwhile, are yet to do anything but field when winning the toss so it seems very clear the side winning the toss here will want to bat second.
The last game at the MCG saw a good batting pitch that the Stars could not take advantage of. A Hurricanes side smarting from defeat last time out could be well placed to score big and put them under more pressure in this match. D’Arcy Short, with a half-century in every other innings this season, is due, and against a Stars side depleted by international call-ups, the Hurricanes should be able to get back to winning ways.
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