Stars import Lasith Malinga to miss the rest of BBL03. Picture: Daniel Wilkins/perthnow.com.au
With the finals looming and pressure building, the Stars aren’t prepared to buckle under the spotlight – instead they’re laughing it off, literally. Their fans’ expectations are immense after six straight wins and supporters believe they can go all the way. Instead of feeling the added heat of being firm favourites, Stars players remain relaxed, with a jovial mood inside the change-rooms. According to speedster Jackson Bird, members of the ‘green machine’ are enjoying their cricket and having fun and the results are there.
Eliminated in the semis the last two seasons, the Stars are desperate to go one better and won’t be taking it easy or tinkering ahead of an expected home final. In fact, they’re keen not to drop a game at all. But they'll have to do it without quick Lasith Malinga. The 'Slinger' has been ordered back home by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board to prepare for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh and the Twenty20 World Cup.
Still the Stars boast plenty of fire-power. Joint second on the BBL wicket-takers list, Bird will have extra incentive to play well – named in Australia’s 15-man test squad to tour South Africa next month. The lanky left-armer is back to his best after a four-month lay-off because of stress fractures in his back. Captain Cameron White with a strike-rate of 140.71 and two 50’s and Englishman Luke Wright who has a strike-rate of 157.89 are key batters for the home-side.
This is a must win game for the Hurricanes . To be assured of making the semi-finals, the Tassie team needs to not only topple the front-runner, but overcome the Heat at home at Blundstone Arena on Thursday. With an average of 46.2 and a strike-strike of 150, Ben Dunk has been the backbone of the Hurricanes batting. Though he’s been a bit expensive of late, Ben Laughlin boasts a best of 3/8 this campaign and is dangerous given favourable conditions, while test discards Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bolinger are wicket-takers.
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