- Both teams have 2 wins from 3 games
- Josh Philippe is averaging 53 this season for the Sydney Sixers
- This game will decide who is on top of the ladder
Venue Melbourne Cricket Ground
Time 7.15 PM
Weather Partly cloudy, medium (60%) chance of rain with southerly winds 15-25 km/h 15-23 C
Both teams find themselves in good form but it’s the Melbourne Stars who have been a revelation this season. Now they find themselves playing at home with a sense of optimism that was unimaginable last season and their convincing win on Sunday against the Thunder shows that they are capable of being a top four team. Andre Russell makes them look like the real deal and Glenn Maxwell is back to his usual high standard.
The Sydney Sixers are on top of the BBL ladder but they journey down to the MCG after having lost their last game on Saturday. The big playing area is always a challenge for the visiting team and the outfielders better get over their nerves under the high ball if they want to have a chance of winning the game. The Stars will need to work out a plan to stop Henriques and Philippe and then have a Plan B and then also a Plan C as well.
The MCG can be downright intimidating for visiting teams but the trick is to have sound outfielders and to run hard between wickets. The drop-in pitch produces plenty of wickets via batters dragging the ball onto the wicket. The cut and pull shots often result in catches for the fielders because the extra bounce means they hit the ball up in the air instead of getting their hands above the height of it and playing it along the ground. The fielders at mid-wicket and long-off will be busy all night.
Melbourne Starts to win by 10 runs or 1 wicket.
The Melbourne Stars now find themselves in good form. Andre Russell has been magnificent in his return and if he can stay fit then they’ll be very competitive. His return has also helped his teams to find their confidence and this has helped the likes of Hilton Cartwright, Brody Couch and Qais Ahmed find form. This is a huge game for them. What they’re really looking for in this game is the confidence boost that will come to them if they win.
Andre Russell might be past it as a bowler but his powerful batting keeps the crowd waiting for catches as he belts the bowling over mid wicket and straight down the ground. His 42 off 21 balls on Sunday showed that he usually prefers to fly high rather than driving or go running between the wickets. He can flick the ball off his legs with power and precision and it’s an intriguing sight to see a man who is built like a rugby player play with such delicacy. He’s definitely a prospect for scoring a fifty in this game.
— Melbourne Stars (@StarsBBL) December 14, 2021
Glenn Maxwell contributed well with his bowling on Sunday but of course he’s known for his lower order batting and once again he contributed with 40 off 25 balls. There haven’t been too many fifties recently but he has now started to score runs when the Stars need them and is looking a lot more confident at the crease as well. He can hit the ball very hard and has the courage to play the hook shot regularly in order to put the fast bowlers in their place. He should be good for another 30 runs in this game.
Marcus Stoinis scored 31 in his last game and that was right on par for him. The simple fact is that if 3 or 4 other batters play as consistently as he does every game then the Melbourne Stars will be title contenders. The top order is starting to look much more solid with him in form. It might be an idea for the Sixers to put a spinner against him because he does love the pace on the ball.
Qais Ahmed is another Afgan spin bowler and he’s economy rate of 7.06 per over was probably the statistic that got him signed to the Stars. In his last 10 games of T20 his maximum cost was 33 runs from his spell which is an extremely difficult feat to achieve. He gets decent side spin on the ball while keeping the ball low after it bounces and this is because he whips his right arm over at pace and at a slightly lower angle than most other spin bowlers do. He should be able to pick up at least one wicket in this game.
Brody Couch is enjoying his debut season with 5 wickets from his 3 games being a great return for the faith that has been shown in him. He shuffles to the crease speedily and his action must be disconcerting to those who haven’t faced him before – there is a lot going on which is beyond my ability to describe. Obviously the low and slow Melbourne club wickets shaped his bowling style as he likes to pitch it right up the bat, but he can also produce an off-pace bouncer that the batter can easily sky high into the air.
Glenn Maxwell’s bowling doesn’t get enough credit – he does a good job of containing the batting just as they look forward to increasing the scoring. His economy rate of 7.72 per over is very low for a batting all-rounder and there have been many batters who have been bowled by a straight delivery after completely missing the ball going for the big shot. He should bowl himself more often as this will build up the pressure for the other bowlers.
They should tell themselves that they can play and that they’re at the top of the BBL for a reason, but this game will be one of the toughest that they play all season. Their batting is blazing ahead but the bowling has some issues. One of these is how will they perform once the Stars start to hit the ball. The fielders will be under pressure to take every chance that comes their way because the MCG outfield is very large and its where the game is won.. Sharp running between the wickets when batting will also be important because they could easily pick up 10 extra runs if they push hard in this department.
Josh Philippe is really hitting the best form of his career this season and he looks like a big wicket for the Stars. The modern trend of the wicket keeper doubling as an opening bat continues with Philippe. When he’s at his best he can be considered a right handed version of Adam Gilchrist. He doesn’t mind moving about the crease which puts the bowlers off their game and he is smart enough to be able to improvise shots at the last possible moment. I’m all out of ideas as to how the Stars can stop him.
James Vince has played 270 games of T20 and he is posting good scores without breaking through yet. For a player of his quality it’s only a matter of time and the English import will once again show why he is so highly valued around the world. He’s very clever at squeezing the ball past the wicket keeper with an open blade and this will invariably result in the bowler placing their hands on their hips and giving him a meaningful stare. He’s very annoying for the opposition captain to set a field for him.
A year after pulling out of BBL mid-way, England & Sydney Sixers all-rounder Tom Curran is happy to be back in Australia https://t.co/N9KZkzhjRI
— Hindustan Times (@HindustanTimes) December 14, 2021
Moises Henriques is an old timer by BBL standards but his timing rather than his power is what gets him his runs. By keeping the ball on the ground he can score consistently – his lowest score so far this season is 26 not out. His real value to the team is his level head, and the other players feed off his calm and positive demeanor which always helps the younger players. He’s another player who has left me clueless as to how the Stars are going to stop, because a key advantage for him is that he doesn’t necessarily have to play a good shot to get going.
Steve O’Keefe should break the century mark of wickets taken in T20 cricket this season and the Stars will remember that he took 4 for 14 in the first game of the season on December 5th. The batters are always vulnerable to dragging the ball back onto the stumps because the ball tends to keep low and fast with his left arm orthodox spinners. When the fielders are placed at long off and long on, plenty of catches are taken in these positions because the batters just can’t help themselves. He’s very good at making the batters play stupidly.
Tom Curran went for 1 for 46 but he’ll bounce back in this game because he is one of the most respected fast medium bowlers in T20 cricket. His supreme fitness allows him to fire in yorkers that have a bit of extra pace on them and this should be too much for the Star’s tailenders if enough wickets fall on the night. The English international is an excellent option at the death or with the new ball. He’ll enjoy playing in this game because it’s a big game at a huge venue and he loves to compete in these situations.
Chris Jordan is a highly experienced T20 bowler who should bowl a lot better in this game after being mauled on Saturday night and going for 1 for 51. Everyone will play a bad game now and then and he’ll remember that he has played 253 T20 games and has a few more seasons left in him. He has the confidence to pitch the ball up to the batter which produces a lot of outside edges. The Stars would do well to be careful when he’s bowling because an early wicket would be a huge boost for his confidence.
Stars vs Sixers: Market Odds
Melbourne Stars $1.69 vs Sydney Sixers $2.20 on TopSport
Stars vs Sixers: Best Bet
Steve O’Keefe to take the most wickets for the Sixers: $4.40 on TopSport
Stars vs Sixers: Best Multi
Steve O’Keefe to take the most wickets for the Sixers.
Glenn Maxwell to hit the most sixes for the Stars.
James Vince to be player of the match.
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