Big Bash League 2018-19, Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Stars: Preview and Predicted Playing XI
Perhaps the match that remains and holds the most importance as of now takes place at the Gabba as the home side, Brisbane Heat take on an aptly named Melbourne Stars side. Both teams are in the reckoning for the last semi-final spot along with Sydney Thunder but it could be a brief tussle if the Stars were able to get away with the win and stride forward to an unassailable position.
With this perhaps being the last match Brendon McCullum plays in the BBL after announcing his retirement, the onus is on Chris Lynn and co to give their loyal warrior the farewell he deserves.
Max Bryant, Chris Lynn and Brendan McCullum are the fulcrum of the Heat batting unit and have often suffered when the aforementioned trio has failed to come up with the goods. This trend is being thrown out of the window at perhaps the right time by Matt Renshaw, who singlehandedly kept Brisbane's hopes of making it to the semis alive.
The southpaw has been in good form and will once again be crucial on a flat pitch against two of the world's best leg-spinners in Zampa and Lamichhane. Ben Cutting's promotion to the top hasn't done the Heat any good and could see either McCullum or Pierson take up his position.
Josh Lalor is slowly picking up form and has seemingly hit his peak with only a match remaining for the Heat. Alongside Swepson and young Prestwidge, Lalor's four overs will be crucial in determining the outcome of the match. Kuhnemann has slotted in nicely although it is Renshaw's bowling that should please management and fans.
Expected Playing XI:
Max Bryant, Brendan McCullum, Chris Lynn (C), Matt Renshaw, Jimmy Pierson (WK), Alex Ross, Ben Cutting, Jack Prestwidge, Josh Lalor, Matthew Kuhnemann and Mitchell Swepson.
With a star-studded batting unit, Stars enter this match as the firm favourites. Marcus Stoinis has been in sensational form with 361 runs in nine matches. He has been ably supported by Maxwell and Dunk as well with a couple of fifties to their name. The depth in batting provided by Dwayne Bravo at number six enables the top order to play fearless cricket which has been one of their trademarks in this season.
Sandeep Lamichhane has returned from national duty and will play instead of Liam Plunkett in what is a crucial match for both teams. Stoinis and Bravo have done well in the death for the Stars and will continue to bore the responsibility of restricting oppositions in the death. Jackson Bird has also been highly impressive with an economy of 5.95 and will be relied upon for early inroads.
Expected Playing XI:
Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Peter Handscomb (WK), Glenn Maxwell (C), Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Evan Gulbis/Seb Gotch, Adam Zampa, Jackson Bird, Sandeep Lamichhane and Daniel Worrall.