February 8, 2020
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
Venue: SCG | Start: 7:15pm (AEDT)
Sydney Sixers – The Sixers are in the driver’s seat to lift the BBL09 trophy – and not just because they’re the competition’s most in-form side. With torrential rain set to lash Sydney this weekend, the prospect of a washout is very much a possibility, from which the men in magenta would take home the title as hosts. Quite simply, anything is on the table and the prospect of a five-over game (the shortest game possible to get a result) is also a chance should there be some respite from the dark clouds.
Either way, the Sixers are primed for Big Bash success in what would be their first title since season one. Having won their last five on the bounce, they enter this season’s showpiece in the best possible shape. The last of these was against the Stars last Friday night, where their ultra-experienced outfit proved too strong for team green. And this is where the final could well be won: the Sixers boast a more experienced side than any other in the competition since the return of Josh Hazlewood, Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon. Combined with skipper Moises Henriques and Steve O’Keefe (the pair that, along with Smith, were part of the BBL01 winning side), and the Sixers are deserved favourites.
But only just. The one thing that could work against Greg Shipperd’s side is that, after skipping directly through to the final with victory over the Stars, they’ve now played just one game in 14 days. However Henriques said they won’t be underdone and enter the clash fresh. They’ve announced an unchanged 13-man squad for the final.
Melbourne Stars – Staring down the barrel of a straight-sets finals exit and further ammo for those labelling them ‘chokers’, the Stars produced a masterclass on Thursday night to book their spot in the BBL09 final. Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin, who both scored 83, would see the home side post 2/194 which proved far too strong for the Thunder.
Given the stakes and their four-straight losses heading into it, the win is a huge confidence boost for David Hussey’s side. After three failures, Stoinis returned to the dominant form that has earned him player of the season honours, while Larkin’s knock also bodes well for the final, and showcased his ability to anchor an innings. Given the lack of depth in the Stars batting lineup, the pair (who put on 117) and skipper Glenn Maxwell will seemingly need to score the bulk of the Stars’ runs on Saturday night. The Stars didn’t let the Thunder spinners settle at the MCG, so expect them to similarly target Lyon and O’Keefe. Haris Rauf (3/17 off 4) again showed he is the key man with the ball for team green, but it was the backup he received from both Nathan Coulter-Nile and Dan Worrall (2-29 and 0-29 respectively from their four overs) that perhaps most pleased Hussey.
Since 2014, the Stars had not batted first in a final and the move paid dividends for Maxwell. However with the forecast rain – and the prospect of revised totals during the game – the skipper will likely opt to chase should he call correctly at the SCG. The Stars have announced one change in their 13-man squad for the trip to Sydney, with Jonathan Merlo coming in for Dilbar Hussain.
Betting Analysis – As mentioned, the rain could well dictate this game and, should a washout be avoided, a shortened game is more than likely. If this eventuates, look for the big hitters to be elevated up the order for both sides. Opener Josh Philippe is the strong option in the individual markets for the Sixers, while Hazlewood is a chance to strike early given the pitch will have spent considerable time under the covers. For the Stars – as he has all season – Stoinis the overwhelming option in the top runscorer market. With the ball, Rauf too (the Stars’ leading wicket taker) is the preferred option to rise about his teammates.
Head to Head: Sydney Sixers
Top Runs Scorer – Sydney Sixers: Josh Philippe
Most Wickets – Sydney Sixers: Josh Hazlewood
Top Runs Scorer – Melbourne Stars: Marcus Stoinis
Most Wickets – Melbourne Stars: Haris Rauf