Stars aim to win maiden BBL title!
Melbourne Stars will win the match!
After sixty matches, it is finally time for the all-important ‘Grand Final’ in the 2019-20 Big Bash League as hosts Sydney Sixers will take on Melbourne Stars at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. Although it was the Melbourne Stars who topped the points table, the two teams took opposite routes to get to this point. After finishing just one point behind Stars, Sydney Sixers took the first bite of the cherry when they defeated the table-toppers in the Qualifier to become the first team to make the final. All said and done, it was a performance that was worthy of being the first BBL finalist.
Although Sixers didn’t manage to post a massive total after being asked to bat first, the team made use of a sluggish MCG pitch to defeat Stars by a convincing 43-run margin. In the first inning, the trio of Josh Philippe, Steve Smith and Jordan Silk all got starts but none managed to make it big. In fact, Silk could be excused as it was his mature 21-ball 25 that helped the Sixers to post a competitive 142-7 after 20 overs. In the second inning, the Sixers bowling attack was on fire as the hosts were quickly reduced to 26-3. Even after that, Sixers continued to lose wickets in clumps with Sean Abbott being the pick of the bowlers as he took three wickets.
With Josh Hazlewood and Steve O’Keefe also making merry with two scalps each, Stars were eventually rolled for 99. After such a disappointing performance, Stars needed a big effort to make the final and that is exactly what they produced against Sydney Thunder in the Challenger on Thursday. Star player Marcus Stoinis continued his run of form this season with a 54-ball 83 while the conservative Nick Larkin was also at his very best by scoring a rapid 83-run knock to help Melbourne Stars post a daunting 194-2 after batting first. It has always been said that runs on the board in knockout matches is always invaluable and that helped Stars as the Thunder batsmen struggled to string big partnerships. Alex Ross’ 58 was the only consolation on a night that saw Haris Rauf increase his wicket-tally to 20 scalps in just 9 matches. In the end, Stars coasted to the final by a margin of 28 runs.
While last season showed some glimpses of Josh Philippe’s talent, the wicket-keeper batsman has taken to another level in this tournament. Just 22-years-old but Philippe has shouldered the responsibility of scoring for Sydney Sixers with him mustering up 435 runs in 15 matches this season. While contributions from other sources have been inconsistent, the addition of Steve Smith to the line-up in the last few games has been really helpful.
On the bowling front, there have been good performances from a number of players. While Ben Dwarshuis and Sean Abbott have picked up 16 and 14 wickets respectively, the experienced trio of Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe have also added a lot of control to the bowling attack. The only concern for Sixers before the final would be the fact that Steve Smith or Moises Henriques would have to fill in if any of the main five bowlers have a bad day in the final.
Josh Philippe (WK), James Vince, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques (WK), Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk, Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
It has been such a remarkable season for Marcus Stoinis that no one would be surprised if Australia picks him in the limited-overs squads once again. While he has received more than a decent amount of support from skipper Glenn Maxwell, Nick Larkin and Peter Handcomb, Stonis has been the stand-out batsman in the entire tournament with 695 runs in 16 matches. Undoubtedly, Melbourne Stars’ hopes of a first title will rest heavily on his shoulders.
While the quality of the batsmen has been mentioned above, it would be unfair to not accept that the bowling attack is their strength. After all, Haris Rauf and Adam Zampa have wreaked havoc in a number of games until now. The Pakistani international Rauf, in particular, has bowled seriously quick to pick up 20 dismissals in just nine matches. Although Sandeep Lamichhane will be a miss, Daniel Worrall and Nathan Coulter-Nile provide enough quality to test the Sydney Sixers line-up.
Marcus Stoinis, Nic Maddinson, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell (C), Seb Gotch (WK), Peter Handscomb, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint Hinchliffe, Adam Zampa, Daniel Worrall, Haris Rauf
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||21||11.00 mm.||6.41 k/h||From: ESE||100%|
|03h||20||19.38 mm.||6.57 k/h||From: SE||100%|
|06h||20||26.56 mm.||8.4 k/h||From: SE||100%|
|09h||19||35.63 mm.||8.8 k/h||From: SE||100%|
|12h||20||16.38 mm.||7.86 k/h||From: ESE||100%|
|15h||21||9.94 mm.||7.47 k/h||From: E||100%|
|18h||21||6.69 mm.||8.6 k/h||From: ESE||100%|
|21h||21||9.38 mm.||9.83 k/h||From: ESE||100%|
The nature of the tracks at the SCG is pretty well known to everyone. Although the surfaces could be slightly sluggish, batters should mostly enjoy the pace and bounce while spinners will also have a big role to play. While the game could turn out to be a cracking contest, one can’t be sure about the match taking place due to inclement weather. There has been a lot of talk about possibly moving the BBL Final from Sydney and that gives an inkling to the gloomy weather that has been prevalent over the last few days. Even on match-day, heavy rain has been predicted and this puts the game in severe danger.
There need not be a massive introduction for the Sydney Cricket Ground as most cricket fans would be aware that the stadium is one of the most high-profile ones in Australia. In this BBL season, the SCG has hosted six games with the Sixers enjoying a dominant record at the venue as they have lost only one game so far.
There are different scenarios which could determine what either captain could choose. If rain is going to affect the match, batting second will be a no-brainer while a full match could see both Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques preferring to put runs on the board.
Although Sydney Sixers got the better of Melbourne Stars in the Qualifier, the visitors could be the ones who might be going to the important match as the favourites.
Armed with a potent bowling attack, Melbourne Stars might strangle the Sixers batting line-up quite easily. If Melbourne Stars are going to lift the title, Marcus Stoinis and Haris Rauf will definitely have to play a major role.
Melbourne Stars will win the match!