The Big Bash League finals preview charges down the wicket with tips for The Final, with the Sixers and Stars hoping to avoid Sydney’s big wet and produce a decider befitting of a fabulous BBL09 campaign.
History: Played 13: Stars 7 V Sixers 6
Last meeting: January 31, 2020: Sixers d Stars by 43 runs at MCG
Final Thoughts: Fittingly, the top two regular-season finishers will contest the BBL09 final. But have the table-topping Melbourne Stars regained form in time to avenge their defeat to the surging Sydney Sixers in The Qualifier? And how much impact will the weather have on the decider?
Only five overs a side are required to constitute a completed match, but a predicted 50mm of rain in Sydney on Saturday could force a washout.
Sixers claim first final spot
The in-form Sixers swamped the Stars by 43 runs in The Qualifier last Friday night in Melbourne. The Sydneysiders made a modest 7/142 batting first, with only Josh Philippe (34 off 28), Jordan Silk (25* off 21) and Steve Smith (24 off 18) getting a start. Adam Zampa (3/21) was superb with the ball for the Stars.
But the hosts could only 99 before being bowled out in the 18th over. Clint Hinchcliffe (25* off 25) top-scored from No.8 while eight Stars batsmen were dismissed for single figures. Sean Abbott (3/23), Josh Hazlewood (2/14) and Steve O’Keefe (2/22) were the chief destroyers for the Sixers.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Stars, who finished the regular season 10-4. The 9-4-1 Sixers have won four in a row.
But the Stars stopped the rot with a 28-run victory in The Challenger on Thursday night. Nick Larkin (83* off 49) and Marcus Stoinis (83 off 54) steered them to an imposing 2/194. Haris Rauf (3/17) shone to help restrict the Thunder to 8/166.
Regular season honours shared
The Stars’ slide began with a 21-run loss to the 9-4-1 Sixers in a 14-over-a-side fixture. Moises Henriques’ 72 off 31 balls lifted Sydney to 4/143. Marcus Stoinis’ 62 off 37 wasn’t enough for the Stars.
But the Stars enjoyed arguably their most memorable win of the season against the Sixers at the MCG.
Marcus Stoinis shattered all manner of BBL records with 147 not out of just 79 balls as the Stars racked up 1/219. Hilton Cartwright’s solid 59 off 40 was put in the shade by his opening partner. Moises Henriques (41 off 25) was the only Sixers batsman to get going, while Clint Hinchcliffe took 3/20 for the Stars.
Big guns on show
For many, the final comes down to two superstars: Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis. The incomparable Smith has been in brilliant limited-overs form for Australia, while he scored 66 not out in his second BBL game. Stoinis, meanwhile, has shattered the BBL’s all-time record for most runs in a season and has returned to form at the right time. They are leading the Top Batsman markets for their respective teams, Smith at $3.40 and Stoinis at $3.
The Sixers have Philippe, Henriques, Silk and James Vince in their top six. Stoinis will rely on support from Nic Maddinson, Nick Larkin, Peter Handscomb and mercurial Glenn Maxwell. Hard to split the rivals on that basis.
But while Rauf and Zampa are in great touch, the Sixers’ bowling attack at full-strength is the BBL’s best.
A truncated final also favours the Sixers. It’s shaping as a second straight heart-breaker for the Stars and the Sixers’ first BBL title since taking out the inaugural 2011-12 competition.