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Sydney Sixers won by 43 runs
The top two teams of the BBL 2019-20 are all set to face-off in a lip-smacking Qualifier.
Melbourne Stars to win the match!
Tournament: BIG BASH LEAGUE 2019-20 | Format: T20 | Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground | Toss: To BatBet Now
The top two teams of the BBL 2019-20 are all set to face-off in a lip-smacking Qualifier on January 31. Melbourne Stars ended the league stage at the pole position in the points table with 10 wins and only 4 losses. What would be concerning the team, though, is that 3 of those losses came in their last 3 matches. Glenn Maxwell's side began the tournament explosively but seem to have lost a little bit of the initial fizz off late. However, on the big knock-out day, one expects them to be back to their best. Playing at home, especially, MS should have the advantage.
Sydney Sixers, meanwhile, ended the league stage at the 2nd position with 9 wins and 4 losses. The Moises Henriques-led side has found a great rhythm and will be coming into the Qualifier on the back of 3 back-to-back wins. We are thus in for a pulsating contest that could well go right down to the wire.
Melbourne Stars haven't been at their best in their last 3 matches. But that doesn't take away the strength and talent in their side. Marcus Stoinis has been an absolute superstar for the team this season and is the leading run-scorer for them with 607 runs in 14 matches with 1 hundred and 5 fifties. The all-rounder has done the opener's job brilliantly and would be itching to make a big impact on the Qualifier game. Skipper Glenn Maxwell (373 runs) has shown again that he has matured as a batsman and can play an aggressive yet responsible knock. Barring these two, however, Melbourne hasn't had too many consistent performers. The loss of Hilton Cartwright (230 runs) to injury has hurt them badly as he was holding the middle-order together.
Now the onus will be on the likes of Peter Handscomb and Nick Larkin to take the responsibility. The Stars have also lost spinner Sandeep Lamichhane (returning for national duties) who was the ace in their bowling pack. This is a major blow and will impact their bowling unit. The team will be delighted that Haris Rauf is returning to the fold.
The talented Pakistani pacer has been the find of the season and has already picked up 16 wickets in 9 matches. He may well be the game-changer for the Stars. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa and Nathan Coulter-Nile might play crucial roles as well.
Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell (c), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, Nick Larkin, Seb Gotch (wk), Haris Rauf, Clint Hinchliffe, Dilbar Hussain
Sydney Sixers would be confident coming into this game. Their batting and bowling unit has fired in the last 3 matches and they would be confident of repeating the show again. Opener Josh Philippe (401 runs) has been the leading scorer for the team this season and is coming off a superb 61 in the last match against Melbourne Renegades. Fellow opener James Vince (309 runs) has done well too along with Daniel Hughes (264 runs) and skipper Moises Henriques (244 runs).
However, the biggest boost the Sixers got was the return of Steve Smith into their ranks. Smith made an impact immediately by scoring an unbeaten and match-winning 66 in the last match and would be one to watch out for in the Qualifier. Sydney's bowling is mainly dependent on English seamer Tom Curran who has been leading the attack all season and has 22 wickets to his name already.
Ben Dwarshuis has done well too and Steve OKeefe has made an impact in the few games he has played. Josh Hazlewood was really expensive in the last match but he has the experience to turn things around for the team. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon is expected to play a vital role.
Moises Henriques (c), Steve OKeefe, Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood, James Vince, Nathan Lyon, Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Tom Curran, Ben Dwarshuis, Josh Philippe (wk)
The pitch at Melbourne Cricket Ground is a good surface for a T20 game. In this season, we have seen some low-scoring games here as well as some which have been total run-feasts. For the Qualifier, expect a true surface that should aid the slower bowlers and seamers as well. However, the pitch should stay true for batting throughout. The weather for the game is expected to be bright and clear.
In BBL 2019-20, the highest total achieved at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been 219/1 by Melbourne Stars. However, the average total on batting first here in T20Is is only 139. For the Qualifier match here, a total of 170-180 could be a match-winning one.
The team batting first is expected to bat first. While the venue isn't bad for chasing, in a knock-out game it would be safer to bat first and put a healthy total on the board.
In the last 5 matches between Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, Melbourne has won 3 while Sydney has clinched 2 games. In this season of the BBL, the two teams have clashed twice and both have secured a victory each in those encounters. It is really difficult to call this game, but Melbourne will certainly have the home advantage. That being said, they will miss the two key players they have lost and the 3-match losing spree too would be playing on their minds.
Sydney Sixers are on a roll and could well thump Melbourne if they play as a collective unit again. Melbourne, though, has been the best team of the season. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis won't let go of this opportunity easily and will come hard at the Sixers. Expect a close and fiercely-fought contest. But back Melbourne Stars to be the winners given the overall strength of their squad and the home advantage.
Melbourne Stars to win the match!
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