There is a big match in the Big Bash League on Friday when the Melbourne Stars look to secure their place in the semi-finals when they make the trip to Queensland to take on the Brisbane Heat, who themselves are not out of the running for a top four spot.
This is the final match of the regular season for the Brisbane Heat and they head into it knowing they have to win it to have a chance of making the semi-finals. One win from their last two matches will see the Stars into the last four.
Although the Brisbane Heat remain alive in the competition with a win, their fate would still be out of their hands. Were the Stars to then beat the Sixers on Sunday it would still be them who take the final place in the semi-final. All the Heat can do is win here and in an ideal world win big to dent the confidence of their opponents going into their final match.
If the Heat are going to win this match then common logic would suggest that they will do so through their batsmen, which is comfortably their strongest suit. They are likely to need a big score anyway if only for run rate purposes so they should come out all guns blazing in an attempt to get on top early on, and see if they can ride that to victory.
The Melbourne Stars have already bodged up one chance to make it into the semi-finals safely enough. That came and went when they were well beaten in Perth last time out. They didn’t play especially well at any stage in that contest but I am expecting them to fare better in this one because they definitely won’t want the pressure of having to win their final match to make it into the semi-finals.
Last week was the first time in a while that the batting has let the Stars down when they have had everyone available. That has been one of their strengths, although in truth they have gone pretty well with the ball for much of the tournament. One complete performance here should see them into the semi-final and a couple of big wins could yet see them host the Sydney Sixers in the last four.
Brendan Doggett comes in for Sam Heazlett in the only change to the Brisbane Heat squad for this match. Should the Heat fail to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament this will be Brondon McCullum’s final BBL match.
The Melbourne Stars will be boosted by the return of Sandeep Lamichhane from the Bangladesh Premier League. He was the leading wicket taker in the tournament before he left. He replaces Liam Plunkett in the squad.
The Melbourne Stars cost me money last time out but I can’t ignore them here if I’m honest. I think with Sandeep Lamichhane back in their ranks they have everything they need to get the job done here. All sides are allowed a bad day at the office and the Stars certainly had that last time out but they are a good unit and can show that here.
Brisbane Heat haven’t found enough consistency for my liking and even when they win matches it is unusual sized partnerships that are getting them over the line rather than collective team efforts. Those weird events don’t come along often enough to be relied upon. Melbourne Stars were my team before this tournament started and they remain that. I expect them to win this one.
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