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|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||18||1||4.50|
Melbourne Stars continued to build on to the momentum as they flattened Adelaide Strikers in their last game. They're now on a three-match win streak which not only lifted them from the bottom of the points table but also got them closer to a possible semifinal spot. Up next, they'll face Brisbane Heat at Melbourne Cricket Ground on 27th January. Not long ago, the Stars were languishing below Brisbane Heat in the points table, but such disparate has been the fate of the two sides that Brisbane Heat are struggling to even stay in the contention for a playoff spot. They do not have too much time in their hands and unless they want other teams to govern their fortunes, registering a win is imperative in their next match.
After looking down and out for the most part of the tournament, the way Stars have bounced back into the contention is commendable. Coming in from quick-paced surfaces, the Stars adjusted beautifully to script a brilliant win against the Strikers on the slowish surface of Moe.
Batting first after losing the toss, Marcus Stoinis and Ben Dunk laid a solid foundation on a tricky surface. While Stoinis has been in terrific form in their last few matches, the Stars will be rejoicing the return to form of Ben Dunk with big matches coming up in the tournament. They lost only two wickets in the allotted twenty overs and scored 167 runs in the process. Peter Handscomb, too, played a useful role in accelerating towards the back-end of the innings. However, with the surface getting slower, the Stars couldn't really accelerate as well as they'd like with nine wickets remaining.
It wasn't an easy total to chase and Stars' bowlers ensured it with disciplined bowling upfront. Jackson Bird and Liam Plunkett were particularly impressive as they never allowed Strikers to run away with the match. Marcus Stoinis was got rid of Alex Carey in the seventh over which turned out to be the turning point of the match. With ball getting older, runs became increasingly tough to come by and Dwayne Bravo and Marcus Stoinis rocked Strikers in the middle-overs with three wickets each. The Strikers were eventually dismissed for 123.
Ben Dunk, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson, Dwayne Bravo, Evan Gulbis, LE Plunkett, Adam Zampa, JM Bird, Tom O'Connell.
After the floodlights fiasco at the Gabba where Brisbane Heat salvaged a point despite being in a position of disadvantage, the Heat failed to put any points on the board against Sydney Sixers in their next encounter.
After winning the bat-flip toss, Brisbane Heat probably misread the wicket and put Sixers in to bat first. Although they kept picking up wickets at a regular interval, their bowlers failed to check the flow of runs. Bowlers bowling in middle overs failed to sustain the pressure mounted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Josh Lalor as Prestwidge and Ben Cutting leaked plenty. The duo gave away 71 runs in their six overs combined which allowed Sixers to get off the hook and score freely.
As seen in the tournament thus far, Brisbane Heat's batting relies heavily on their top-four. Steve O' Keefe got rid of Max Bryant and McCullum and Lynn struggled to get going against Dwarshius and O' Keefe. Soon, they needed to score at more than 12-runs an over with 12 overs still to go. Brendon McCullum's dismissal made things worse for Heat as they collapsed from 53 for 3 to 98 all-out.
Max Bryant, Brendon McCullum, Chris Lynn, Matt Renshaw, Alex Ross, Jimmy Peirson, Ben Cutting, Josh Lalor, Brendan Doggett, Mitchell Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
For both the sides, a lot is hinging on this encounter as far as the qualification scenarios go. Melbourne Stars have been terrific in the last three encounters largely due to the return of their overseas stars. Brisbane Heat, on the other hand, are going through a tough spell and haven't had a tournament to remember. The Stars have an in-form batting lineup which goes deep. Their bowlers, too, have done well of late and are likely to trouble out-of-form Heat's batting lineup. Considering the form of two teams and the on-paper lineup, the Stars are better-placed to win the upcoming encounter.
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