We are into the final two matches of the Big Bash League 2019-20 season. Up next is the ‘Challenger’ where the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder clash on Thursday night AEDT at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The winner of this match will get a ticket to the final against the Sydney Sixers.
The Stars have finished the regular season top of the table. However, their recent form has been very poor. They have lost their last four matches and have also lost four of the last five BBL knockouts. The Thunder scraped through to the playoffs by finishing fifth in the standings, but have seen an upsurge since then. Comfortable wins over Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers gives them momentum. Not just that, the Thunders have a perfect 4-0 record in the BBL knockouts.
Melbourne Stars Preview
The Stars have been over-reliant on Marcus Stoinis (612 runs, 5×50 1×100) and Glenn Maxwell (389 runs, SR 150.77) for their runs. The trend is set to continue, so pack your side with these two superstars. The other batsmen do not really inspire confidence of a spot in your side.
Among the bowlers, Adam Zampa (16 wickets, ER 6.76) will be key considering MCG’s affinity to spinners. Haris Rauf (17 wickets) has six wickets against the Thunder in the two regular season matches and is another good choice.
Sydney Thunder Preview
The Thunder’s renaissance has been led by Alex Hales (568 runs, SR 147.91), who is on a roll in the last few matches. Usman Khawaja (365 runs) hasn’t really set the ball rolling, but enjoys a good record in the playoffs. Captain Callum Ferguson is another pick, although his recent form has shown a considerable dip.
The bowling unit will be considerably dependent on Daniel Sams (30 wickets). The left-armer can’t stop taking wickets and should be a good pick. Chris Morris (20 wickets) has also sprung to life in the recent fixtures, emerging as a fantasy choice.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Marcu Stoinis just can’t stop scoring runs. His consistency has been the bedrock of the Stars’ season.
Alex Hales has three 50+ scores on the trot and is gunning to become only the second-ever player to score four consecutive BBL fifties.
Jono Cook has 13 wickets this season, but six of those have come in the last two matches. With such form and a pitch that assists spinners, he should be a key player.
Melbourne Stars: 1 Jake Weatherald 2 Phil Salt 3 Alex Carey (WK) 4 Travis Head (C) 5 Jon Wells 6 Matt Short 7 Michael Neser 8 Rashid Khan 9 Peter Siddle 10 Wes Agar 11 Billy Stanlake
Sydney Thunder: 1 Marcus Stoinis 2 Nic Maddinson 3 Nick Larkin 4 Glenn Maxwell (C) 5 Peter Handscomb (WK) 6 Seb Gotch 7 Adam Zampa 8 Clint Hinchliffe 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile 10 Haris Rauf 11 Dilbar Hussain
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