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The Big Bash League breaks for Christmas with Sydney Thunder sitting comfortably at the top of the points table. They have Melbourne Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes along with them with four points each separated only on net run rate. Shane Watson's Thunder defeated Sydney Sixers on Monday as the Sixers slid to fifth place in the points table. With one win from two matches to their name, the Sixers will take on Melbourne Stars who have played two matches and are yet to get off the mark. Stars, after being dismal in their first two matches, will be desperate to register a win here. Another loss from them could push them to the bottom of the table if Perth Scorchers manage to salvage a win in their next game.
Despite the loss, the Sixers would have been pretty happy to close the deficit to just 21 runs considering that they were five wickets down in seven overs. Chasing 170 against Sydney Thunder, Sydney Sixers finished on 148 with Tom Curran top-scoring for them.
The Sixers, after being 56 for 6 in 9 overs, saw the older Curran brother and Shaun Abbot put up an admirable fight before Tom Curran perished for a well-made 62 which included eight fours and one six. Shaun Abbot contributed with 35. While they'll be particularly happy with the way their tailenders performed, the batting of top-order will be a cause of concern for the management.
For two consecutive matches now, have their top-three failed to give them the start they wanted. They were three down inside the powerplay in their first match and had an even worse start against the Thunders before Curran and Abbot took them to a total where the damage to their net run rate was minimized.
Earlier with the ball, Curran was instrumental in restricting Thunder to 169 when they looked like getting a lot more. He kept things quiet in 18th and 20th over of the match. In the absence of Nathan Lyon, Steven O' Keefe has been vital to Sixers' spin plans. He has picked five wickets in two games and returned with the figures of 4-0-27-2. All in all, the Sixers have done pretty well with the ball in both their encounter. Daniel Hughes and Jordan Silk bailed them out in the first match, but they couldn't repeat the feat in the second game after their openers failed for yet another time. If their top-order can contribute more with the bat, the Sixers will be a tough team to handle.
Jack Edwards, Joe Denly, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, Josh Philippe, Tom Curran, Sean Abbott, Steve O'Keefe, Greg West, B Dwarshuis.
Glenn Maxwell's Melbourne Stars continued their poor show in Big Bash League as they slid down to the seventh spot in the points table with a loss against Hobart Hurricanes. The Stars failed to exert any kind of dominance whatsoever in both the powerplays which in turn had a decisive impact in the match.
Being put into bat by Hobart Hurricanes, Melbourne Stars failed to get off to a start they wanted. They lost both their openers inside the powerplay. Ben Dunk struggled to get going as he played a laborious knock of 10 which consuming 18 deliveries in the process. Larkin and Maxwell revived their innings with important innings of 45 and 47 respectively, but no real contribution from anyone towards the end of the innings meant that their total was restricted to just 155.
Defending a modest total, it was imperative for their bowlers to pick early wickets. Instead, it went all wrong for them as D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade never allowed their bowlers to settle down. Short was pretty severe against Dwayne Bravo as Hurricanes reaped 20 runs off his first over. Sandeep Lamichhane was the only Stars' bowler who seemed to cause any trouble whatsoever for the Hurricanes. He picked up 3 for 24 in his four overs and will be the biggest threat for the Sixers in the upcoming match.
Ben Dunk, Peter Handscomb, N Larkin, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Dwayne Bravo, Evan Gulbis, Sandeep Lamichhane, Scott Boland, Adam Zampa, Jackson Coleman.
Melbourne Stars have had two forgetful matches in the Big Bash League so far. They could consider themselves a little unfortunate as rain played a massive role in their first defeat against Thunder, but they only have themselves to blame for their loss against the Sixers. Sixers, on the other hand, have played pretty well. They have an apparent problem of their top-order not firing which they'd need to fix as soon as possible. Unlike Stars, who have relied heavily on Sandeep Lamichhane with the ball, the Sixers have a better-balanced bowling attack which makes them better-placed to emerge victorious in the upcoming encounter.