Lasith Malinga has just one wicket this tournament. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au/Daniel Wilkins
The Stars have been the best side in the competition so far, but a win against Adelaide on Thursday night is crucial, with three of the team’s best XI heading off for duties with Australia’s one-day team after this match. Glenn Maxwell has been in great form with the bat this tournament, while Clint McKay and all-rounder James Faulkner are part of a bowling line-up which has restricted almost every team they’ve played so far. They’re four from four, and a win here will probably sew up a finals spot and also put them a step closer to hosting a semi-final at the MCG.
The Strikers have had the benefit of a soft start to the Big Bash, based on the current standings, but this will be a real test of their title credentials. They went down to the Sixers in their first match without skipper Johan Botha, losing to the Sixers by six wickets at the Adelaide Oval. His replacement, Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan , couldn’t have been more impressive on debut, though, smacking 46 off 30 balls and taking 2/21 with the ball off his four overs.
Michael Neser has been a big surprise packet for the Strikers with the ball. The Queenslander picked up three wickets against both the Thunder and Scorchers, and put the clamps on the Sixers conceding just 19 runs from his allocation. Shaun Tait has picked up four wickets in three matches but has gone for eight runs an over, while the spin of former Thunder leggie, Adam Zampa , has been given plenty of tap going at 8.7 runs per over.
Former Test paceman Jackson Bird has been a surprise contributor for the Stars this season leading all wicket-takers with nine for the tournament at an average of 11. Lasith Malinga hasn’t fired since touching down in Australia with just one scalp in three games, but he will be a vital asset come finals time. It has been the Stars bats doing the damage, though, with Cameron White already posting two half-centuries. White, Maxwell, Luke Wright and Brad Hodge all have strike-rates greater than 150. Add Matthew Wade – who missed out on the Australian ODI squad – in to the mix and the Melburnians have several players who can propel them to big totals.
Hodge was the star in last season’s match-up between these teams smashing 88 off just 55 deliveries. The Strikers got within eight runs, but only after a late flurry from West Indian Kieron Pollard. The Stars are 4-1 at home over their last five starts and they also beat the Strikers in their only other clash in BBL01.
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