After three losses in a row – the last two being demoralising – Brisbane Heat need a win in their penultimate match of the Big Bash League season as they face the top-rankers Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
The Stars have 20 points from their 13 matches and will finish top of the standings irrespective of their remaining results. However, they will be keen to come out of a two-match losing run of their own. The Heat have a bigger task on their hands, sitting with 10 points from 12 matches and just outside the top-five at this stage. A win might not guarantee progress, but a loss would surely complicate things.
The Stars have been able to base their season on Marcus Stoinis (590 runs, SR 133.78). The opener has been impressive all along, but the Stars have been over-dependent on him. Peter Handscomb and Nick Larkin could improve and add more steel to the batting.
Their bowling was led by the surprise package Haris Rauf (16 wickets) who has now left for national duty. His replacement Dilbar Hussain is an equally good and surprise bowler – so watch out for him. Otherwise, Sandeep Lamichhane (14 wickets) has been pressing well for the Stars.
With a sudden dip in their standards and form, the Heat are in danger of blowing their chances. Chris Lynn (339 runs, SR 159.90) is destructive, but needs to be present at the crease beyond the fourth over at the least. AB de Villiers is easing into his role, but the consistent collapses around him isn’t helping one little bit.
Bowling also lacks conviction and balance, as their best bowler Ben Laughlin (14 wickets, ER 9.16) continues to be expensive. James Pattinson has shown the drive and urge to lead the pack and could be their best shot at getting back to winning ways.
The Stars have no real worries at the moment, even if they lose, considering they are guaranteed top-spot. However, they will be keen on taking winning momentum into the playoffs and not get complacent. For the Heat, the chance of missing out on the top-five is a reality, unless they improve. With the kind of form that they are exhibiting, there is really no confidence in the camp and it is tough to see them winning.
History & Statistics
- The Stars have hit the most 6s in seven of 12 matches.
- The Heat have a 4-1 H2H record while batting first.
- The Heat have a 5-1 H2H record while losing the toss.
- The Heat have won three of the four H2Hs at this venue.
- The Heat have scored the highest powerplay score in eight of 12 matches.
Clint Hinchliffe has been the silent hero for the Stars with consistent and surprising performances. He has eight wickets to his name already, but can he trouble the weary Heat batsmen?
AB de Villiers looked to be scratching his way to form against the Sixers. Had he got some support, it looked more likely that he would have scored big. Can he do that against the Stars in this crucial encounter?