Last Chance For Stars To Shine

Picture: Michael Klein/
The Stars desperately need their batsman to fire. Picture: Michael Klein/
The Melbourne Stars  get one last chance to qualify for the Big Bash finals when they face winless Sydney Thunder  at the MCG on Tuesday. Back-to-back defeats to Brisbane Heat and the Melbourne Renegades has left the competition heavyweights on the brink of elmination, but they can still secure a place in the final four with victory. Any hope that Sydney had of making the playoffs disappeared a long time ago, with seven straight defeats this campaign condemning them to the wooden spoon for the second straight season.

The Stars will be without skipper Shane Warne after he was suspended for his part in the ugly confrontation with Marlon Samuels that dominated headlines following the Melbourne derby on Sunday. He is likely to be replaced in the playing XI by Clive Rose, while Australian ODI squad members David Hussey , Glenn Maxwell  and Clint McKay are all eligible for selection. If the Sri Lankan Cricket Board makes Lasith Malinga unavailable, former England allrounder Dimitri Mascarenhas will take his place in the side.

Scoring runs has been Melbourne's problem for the duration of the tournament and is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. This problem is probably best illustrated by the fact that Luke Wright  has top scored in four of the sides seven matches but is only 17th on the list of tournament runscorers.

Sydney will also be without its captain, with Chris Rogers still on the sidelines due to the fractured finger that ruled him out of the match against Perth last week. Scott Coyte suffered an elbow injury at the WACA and has been withdrawn from the squad, with allrounder Sean Abbott and left arm spinner Luke Doran earning recalls.

Usman Khawaja  will be determined to continue his good form going into the ODI series against Sri Lanka after scoring 66* and 56 in his past two innings, while Chris Gayle  and Matt Prior  will be determined to sign off in style after poor campaigns that have seen them score just 97 runs between them in nine innings.

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