The penultimate day of KFC Big Bash fixtures throws up two fascinating fixtures. The first game of the morning will be contested between the Sixers and the Thunder. Getting underway two hours later will be the match that sees the Melbourne stars who travel to Perth to take on the Scorchers.
Following Thursday’s result where the Stars lost out to the Heat, both Melbourne sides, as well as the Thunder, will have to compete for the last two play-off places. Things are heating up down under, and following the conclusion of the Monday game, we’ll know who has qualified for the play-offs.
Last year’s losing finalists, the Sydney Sixers, have endured a bit of torrid campaign this season. The SCG-based side have only won two games this season – both of those wins coming in their first three games of the season. Their last defeat came somewhat surprisingly against the Heat, who have hit form at precisely the worst time of the season.
The only real standout performers for the Sixers this season have been Michael Lumb and Nathan Lyon. Lumb has been in decent form and currently sits sixth on the list of top run scorers this season on 241. He’s averaged a healthy 34.42 striking at 131.69. Lyon, on the other hand, has been sensational. He currently possesses one of the best economy rates of the season at 6.59 with the second best average of 13.00.
The Thunder have been the surprise package of this season’s Big Bash and look on course to qualify for the play-offs should they get one over their crosstown rivals on Saturday morning. They recruited wisely in the off-season, bringing in two experienced campaigners in Andre Russell and Shane Watson. The two have added a lot of value to the Thunder’s push for a play-off spot with bat and ball.
Russell has been especially good with the ball in hand. He’s taken the second most wickets in this season’s edition of the Big Bash with 13. He sits just behind Adil Rashid of the Strikers who has been nothing short of sensational this season for the Strikers. Clint McKay has also looked dangerous when he’s bowled, bagging 11 wickets in this season’s competition.
The Sixers have been pretty abysmal this season and look on course to record their lowest ever Big Bash finish. The Thunder, on the other hand, have morphed from the tournament whipping boys into a side that can mix it up with the best. Back the Thunder to win this match, putting them in the mix for a play-off spot.
I look at this Scorchers side and I wonder how on earth they make it to the play-offs every season without fail. While some of the other franchises boast international stars like Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Kevin Pietersen; the Scorchers have to make do with the relatively underwhelming English duo of David Willey and Michael Carberry.
They’ve lost Shaun Marsh and Joel Paris to the Australian ODI squad while Jason Behrendorff has been left out due to soreness. Travis Brit Jhye Richardson have been drafted into the match-day 13 in their place.
Key to the Scorchers’ chances of claiming victory and finishing top of the BBL05 table will be the performances of Michael Klinger and Andrew Tye. Klinger has been in excellent form with the bat this season, scoring 241 runs at an average of 48.20 and is the joint third-highest run scorer in the completion along with Aaron Finch. Tye has been equally impressive with the ball in hand. The right-arm seamer has managed 11 wickets in just seven matches. He also boasts one of the best averages in the competition at 16.36. As well as taking wickets on a consistent basis, he also keeps the scoring down, conceding just 6.87 runs an over.
It’s squeaky bum time for the Melbourne Stars who need to win this match if they’re to qualify for their fifth consecutive play-off. They will have get the business done without the likes of James Faulkner, John Hastings, Scott Boland and John Hastings who are all with the Australian ODI squad.
David Hussey and his charges will have been bitterly disappointed with their performance last time out in their 56-run defeat to the Heat. Chris Lynn smashed a 24-ball 56 which included five consecutive sixes off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus as the Heat surged to 188-7 in their 20 overs. The Stars’ chase never really got going, thanks mainly to Samuel Badree who bagged career-best figures of 5-22 as the Stars limped to 132-9.
Even though the Stars desperately need the win, I simply can’t bet against the Scorchers who have barely put a foot wrong all season. Back the Scorchers to beat the Stars at 6/10.