Big Bash Heavyweights Lock Horns

Picture: Michael Klein/
Brad Hodge is likely to open for the Stars in the absence of Luke Wright. Picture: Michael Klein/
The Melbourne Stars  and Sydney Sixers  lock horns at the MCG on Saturday night with the home side looking for its third straight win. Since losing to the Renegades on the opening night of the season, Melbourne has hardly put a foot wrong with a crushing win against the Scorchers followed by a strong performance against the Hobart Hurricanes. While the Stars are looking to continue a winning run, the Sixers will be looking to start another after losing their first match in 13 outings when suffering defeat to the Perth Scorchers last weekend.

Englishman Luke Wright top scored in the Stars first two matches this season but will be unavailable for this fixture after travelling to India to link up with his national teammates. Brad Hodge  is a more than capable replacement at the top of the order however, with teammate David Hussey  the only man to have scored more runs in Twenty20 cricket. Veteran Hodge has appeared to be in good touch during both of his innings in the current campaign and will relish the opportunity to move to the top of the order after batting at three in the opening stages of the tournament. One of Scott Henry and Alex Keath is likely to come into the XI with Wright not playing, while Jackson Bird is unavailable for selection after being named in Australia’s Test squad for the Boxing Day Test.

The Sydney Sixers will be hoping that Nic Maddinson  has recovered from the groin strain that ruled him out of his side’s loss to the Scorchers on Sunday. With David Warner on Test duty Sydney were forced to use Moises Henriques  at the top of the order alongside Dan Smith and they could continue at the top if Maddinson is again unavailable while they wait for Michael Lumb to join up with the squad. International imports Jeevan Mendis and Sunil Narine – making his debut for the team – were very economical against Perth and will again be asked to control the middle overs, while more will be expected of pace spearhead Brett Lee who has failed to pick up a wicket in the opening two matches.

These sides have met only once before, with the Sixers scoring a thrilling 2 run victory in Sydney on December 27 last year. Only one Big Bash match has been played at the MCG this season and it was a low scoring affair, with the Stars chasing down the Hurricanes score of 134 in the final over. Spinners are again likely to have a big say in the outcome of the match and the duel between Shane Warne and Sunil Narine will be one to savour.

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