Big Bash League 2018-19, Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers: Preview and Predicted Playing XI
While the Sixers are assured of a semi-final spot and would hope for a home clash, the Stars are in a puzzling situation as only a victory would seal their spot for the semis, and that too, against the Hurricanes.
With the return of several high-profile players to both sides, the stakes are high with the semi-finals on the horizon.
Marcus Stoinis has been in belligerent form since returning from national duty with 442 runs to his name. He even scored a brilliant fifty against the Heats, albeit in vain with none of the other Stars batsmen coming up with the goods.
Apart from a fifty in his first match this season, Peter Handscomb hasn't been able to influence proceedings consistently, though he is their best bet in a crunch match against the Sixers.
Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson need to come up with better performances in the middle order against a bowling attack which is touted to be the best in the league.
In spite of possessing world beaters in the form of Bravo and Lamichhane, the Stars were treated like a rag doll by Max Bryant and Ben Cutting as they were put away to all parts of the ground on Friday.
Lamichhane was surprisingly used after the carnage eased off inspite of being their trump card. Against a good batting opposition, Lamichhane and Zampa will be crucial to their chances of making it to the semi-final.
Expected Playing XI:
Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Pete Handscomb (WK), Glenn Maxwell (C), Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Adam Zampa, Sandeep Lamichhane and Jackson Bird.
Without any household names in their batting unit, the Sixers have gone about their business quite clinically with the likes of Josh Phillipe and Jordan Silk coming of age to defy the odds.
James Vince has slotted in perfectly for the Sixers to complement the experience of Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques while Tom Curran and Sean Abbott have often cleared the fences at the time of need.
Balance and depth are the two key resources which have defined the Sixers and will once again be crucial in the last league match of the season.
Three of the Sixers' bowlers are amongst the top five wicket-takers in the league with Curran impressing the most with his searing yorkers at the death. The trio of Steve O'Keefe, Sean Abbott and Tom Curran have been ably supported by Ben Dwarshius who himself has picked up thirteen wickets this season.
Adding to the woes of the Stars, the Sixers welcome back Nathan Lyon to the side, who should slot in for Pope to round off a potentially world class bowling line-up.
Expected Playing XI:
Josh Phillipe (WK), Daniel Hughes, James Vince, Moises Henriques (C), Jordan Silk, Jack Edwards, Tom Curran, Sean Abbott, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Dwarshius and Nathan Lyon.
Published 09 Feb 2019, 14:18 IST