The first double header of the Big Bash League takes place on Saturday and it gets underway in Albury as two teams looking for their opening win of the season meet when the Melbourne Stars take on the Sydney Thunder.
Both teams have played two matches so far this season and are yet to get off the mark. With four matches less in the first stage this time around that makes this one a pretty big game for both as it is a long way back from 0-3.
The Melbourne Stars haven’t really shown up in this competition yet. They have played two matches and been blown away in both of them and already they are under pressure not just because they have fewer games to make an impact in but also because their net run rate is at pitiful levels which could count against them. You sense at some point in their last eight games they are going to need a big win to make that part of the table look more respectable.
The one thing the Stars really need is for their batting to accompany them to the party. In the two matches they have played so far they have registered scores of 111 and 101 and those sorts of numbers aren’t going to win anything. One or two injuries haven’t helped them but they look to have no excuses here. Their bowling hasn’t looked much better in truth so you do have to fear for the Stars, who have been on a downward spiral for a while.
The Sydney Thunder have been a lot more competitive in their matches but haven’t got any rewards to show for their efforts. They were beaten by the Brisbane Heat in their opening match and then went down to the Adelaide Strikers in the second one. The latter one will have disappointed them because they already had 200 on the board and would have been confident of defending that score. That didn’t materialise though and now they are under pressure to deliver here.
That will have been a reminder to their bowlers that they can’t come off the top of their game for a second if they want to be a feature in this competition and I would expect a better showing from the bowlers in this match. Even if they don’t get it if their batting can still deliver the goods again they are likely to have enough to come out on top here. Sydney will want a convincing showing both for confidence and also for their net run rate.
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Glenn Maxwell returns from injury for this match and the Melbourne Stars will definitely need their captain to bring some of the form he showed at the World Cup last month with him. If he does that he’ll give his team a chance.
Cameron Bancroft showed why he is on the fringes of the Australia squad with a half century in the last match and if he can get stuck into the Stars’ bowling early on in the innings the Thunder could find things easy going later in the piece.
We have only had one match on this ground in the past but the fact that there were 24 sixes in it makes me think that we are in for an entertaining contest to open up the day. There is a part of me that is reluctant to rely too much on the Melbourne Stars batters to deliver but if they can’t ping a few over the ropes here then you really do fear for them so with that in mind I’m happy to get on over 13.5 sixes, especially as the line in most places is 16.5.
We saw in their last match that while the Sydney Thunder can score big runs they can also go around the park at the same time and with the dimensions of this ground suiting hitting sixes then I’ve got to think they will flow here. There isn’t really much in the way of elite quality in these attacks. There are some good players but when they get it wrong it goes badly wrong and it won’t need to be too far out here to go the distance. I’ll play the over here.
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