Brad Hodge is part of the Stars' imposing batting line-up. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Michael Klein
It was so close, yet so far, again, for Sydney Thunder last Friday night when not even an inspired Mike Hussey innings could snap a two-year losing streak in the Big Bash. The Adelaide Strikers snuck home by six runs at Stadium Australia despite 39-year-old Hussey smashing 86 off 56 balls and another outstanding effort from lanky left-armer Dirk Nannes who picked up 2/22 off four economical overs.
After 15 straight losses, it doesn’t get any easier for the western Sydney side with the unbeaten Melbourne Stars coming to town on Wednesday night. No team managed to reach the 200-mark in last season’s tournament but the Stars have managed it in easy wins over the Renegades and Sixers to kick off BBL03.
A scary thought for Thunder is that every Stars batsman has got some quality time in the middle in the first two rounds. At the S.C.G. it was veteran David Hussey top-scoring with an unbeaten 50, but Matthew Wade , Luke Wright and Glenn Maxwell also got amongst the runs, while the latter picked up three wickets with the ball. They’ll be without hard-hitting all-rounder James Faulkner for this match, though, after he regained his spot in Australia’s Test squad and is an outside chance of playing in the final Ashes encounter in Sydney. Lasith Malinga only bowled two overs in his first appearance for the Stars this season against the Sixers, but should be better for the run after coming straight over following Sri Lanka’s limited overs series against Pakistan.
David Warner and Usman Khawaja got Thunder off to a flyer in round one against their fellow Sydneysiders, but both were missing from the Strikers loss. Ryan Carters and Dan Hughes assumed opening duties, but Hussey and Eoin Morgan were forced in to a rescue mission when the men in green slumped to 3/20. Khawaja should be back from injury on Wednesday night, while super-skilled Sri Lanka Tillakaratne Dilshan is expected to open . The man who came up with the ‘Dilscoop’ shot over the wicket-keeper’s head a few years back is a demon in the field and a handy off-spinner. He’s in Australia because of his batting, though, and in three of his last four international T20 matches he has scored 74 not out against South Africa, an unbeaten 59 against New Zealand, and 48 in the recent series with Pakistan.
The Stars are one of just two teams to lose to Thunder in this competition, going down in the teams’ first ever clash in the Big Bash. The Melbourne powerhouse rebounded to win the corresponding match last season by 13 runs which was at home, but the Stars are 5-4 across the three-year history of the tournament when playing interstate.
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