The 'Slinga' back for the Stars' semi final against Hobart. Picture: Daniel Wilkins/perthnow.com.au
They might be unbeaten in BBL03, but the Melbourne Stars don’t need reminding that they’ve fallen in the semis in the previous two seasons. This campaign they were keen not to drop a game during the fixture stage and Monday’s 20-run win over fellow-finalist the Perth Scorchers meant ‘mission accomplished’. But now they face a free-wheeling Hobart Hurricanes at a stage of the tournament which has been unkind.
Last season, the Stars were somehow beaten in a rain-affected, last ball, controversial cliff-hanger at the WACA, twelve months after being ‘scorched’ by Perth at the very same venue, thanks mainly to Herschelle Gibbs’ 71 off 46 balls.
In BBL03, the ‘Green Machine’ has posted big wins over the Renegades, the Sixers, the Strikers and the Scorchers. They were also tradesman-like against Thunder, Heat and the Hurricanes. The Stars’ depth has been tested of late with Luke Wright , Glen Maxwell , Cameron White , Brad Hodge and Matthew Wade all on representative duty, and Rob Quiney injured. All bar Quiney will be back for the semi, while their leading wicket-taker Jackson Bird is in South Africa on test duty. Classy Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga has been cleared to play, but must return home before the final. Clint McKay and John Hastings are good with the white ball.
The Hurricanes qualified for the finals with just three wins – against Heat (twice) and Thunder. The team from Hobart proved how dangerous it is successfully chasing down 209 for victory at the Gabba. Ben Dunk starred that night with 67 off 33 balls and he is the competition’s leading run-scorer with 348 at a strike-rate of almost 147. Dunk has been named BBL Player of the Tournament. Tim Paine has threatened a big knock and is due. Despite being hampered by a leg injury during his international campaign, George Bailey is back, further bolstering Hobart's batting. Ben Laughlin has been their best bowler taking 12 wickets with an economy rate of 7.63. Doug Bolinger and Cameron Boyce have been handy.
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