About the Match
The Melbourne Stars will be hosting the Sydney Thunder at the MCG as the business end of the season begins to come around. Almost every match from here on in will have a bearing on the lineup for the semi-final and there are currently 6 teams vying for those 4 spots. The Stars have already been knocked out of contention but the Thunder still have a slim chance to sneak in.
The Melbourne Stars are sitting at the bottom of the table with no chance of making it to the playoffs and have no one to blame but themselves. An extremely talented group of players could not come together as a team and that has led to a disaster season for them this year.
Ben Dunk was supposed to be the one to provide them that extra boost at the top of the order but with 66 runs in total, he has been a complete failure. Luke Wright has not done too much better with 82 runs in total.
Their collective failure has put additional pressure on the middle order as well. Kevin Pietersen, by his own admission, is at the end of his career and just does not have it to play match-winning innings consistently. He has played one memorable knock this season but been a liability to the team in most situations.
Glen Maxwell is hitting form but he continues to be difficult to back because of his tendency to throw away his wicket. He is, however, the one player that can win the Stars a match on his own at any stage of the match.
With Marcus Stoinis, the best player for the Stars, missing because of international duty the task for their batting lineup becomes more difficult than ever. The Stars must also look at their bowling lineup. None of their bowlers has taken more than 5 wickets and most of them have had trouble stopping the runs from leaking as well.
The last couple of matches for the Stars could affect careers because we foresee a massive shakeup in personnel next year.
The Thunder team finally has its best batting lineup on the park even though Jos Buttler is missing in action. The likes of Usman Khawaja, James Vince, and Shane Watson are excellent T20 batsmen and all of them will be motivated to try and leave a mark at this important stage in the tournament.
Usman Khawaja started the tournament off with a bang and will return to MCG, where he just bullied the English bowlers in an Ashes test. We think he could really make a big score in this match against a Stars bowling lineup that is very pedestrian.
The other big wicket for the Stars will be that of Shane Watson. The current highest scorer for the Sydney Thunder and the man who has hit the most sixes has slowed up a little after a fantastic start to the BBL.
He has been extremely motivated, though, and we can see him just teeing off against a line of similar medium pacers.
Sydney Thunder has a poor net run-rate and this could come back to hurt them in the end. They must now strike a fine balance between ensuring their win as well as going really hard in an effort to improve their net run-rate.
Thankfully for the Sixers, their bowling lineup has been exceptional this entire BBL and there is no reason why that should change now. Fawad Ahmed, Chris Green, and Arjun Nair have been absolutely stunning in their bowling performances.
The large square of the MCG is a perfect place for the spinners to really come into their own. We think that Fawad Ahmed and Arjun Nair could be the ones to keep the Melbourne Stars in check.
Pitch and Conditions
A sunny day with some clouds around has been forecast for match day. Only a 10% chance of rain has been predicted at the moment which means that we should have an uninterrupted match. The pitch at the MCG has been flat but has slowed down a bit off late. The spinners will be the key in this contest where we expect scored to be around the 150-160 mark.
The Stars have a 4-3 advantage against the Thunder in traditional contests. Crucially, though, Sydney Thunder has won the last three matches between the two sides. We expect the Sydney Thunder with their better bowling, dangerous batting, and the motivation to qualify for the knockouts to beat the Melbourne Stars in this match as well.
Back the Melbourne Stars to win