Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Stars
Thursday January 7 10.20
TV: live on BT Sport 2
Stars fresh from priceless win
The Stars are back in business after a hard-fought win over the Hobart Hurricanes, who were on a good run up to that point.
The win owed a lot to Marcus Stoinis’ quite brilliant 97 not out, the first time in a while the powerful all-rounder had appeared to be in good touch.
For much of the innings the Hurricanes were very much in the game but a spell of 2-22 off four overs from Sam Rainbird proved to be almost as important as Stoinis’ knock. In a high-scoring game, taking two wickets and going at 5.5 an over is like gold dust.
Mind you, without the two brilliant catches Andre Fletcher took in the deep they may well have lost the game anyway.
They’re now in fifth but a win here could see them go third so it’s a big game.
Heat giving themselves a sniff
The Heat are now somehow unlikely to finish rock bottom and though that may not seem like much, they were contenders to do just that this time last week.
Not only did they win their last two but interestingly, they were against the two Sydneys, table-toppers no less.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman was excellent in both games and in the absence of anyone really getting going with the bat, it took a number of useful cameos to get them over the line in the end in both games. They look a side better suited to chasing and they’ll be better for the return to fitness of Chis Lynn.
In chases he often just takes the game away from you by scoring at breakneck pace and getting his side ahead of the run rate but sooner or later someone or other is going to have to do some of the heavy lifting as well.
It might be Joe Burns. After a nightmare run in the Test side and a fail in his first BBL game of the season, he was excellent last time out, smashing 52 off 38 by playing fearless cricket. Boy, do they need him.
Match winner tough to decipher
We’re at the Carrara Oval for this one where 170 should be pretty competitive first up.
The match odds market is quite frankly, one to miss.
The Stars are 1.728/11 and are the better all-round side. Normally, the advice would be to be to back the Stars batting first because it plays to their strengths of not having to think about run rates and just getting as many as they can with their big-hitters and then defending as best they can.
The problem with that is that as we’ve seen, the Heat (who are 2.35/4) are far better in the chase than they are batting first.
All three of their wins so far came when bowling first.
So, we’ll leave this one alone and focus on finding an edge on other markets. Mind you, the Heat are 8-5 up on head to heads over the years so backing Lynn and co as outsiders would at least mean you have the long-term stats on your side.
Sportsbook could get burnt on Joe
That man Burns catches the eye on the Heat top batsman market. Having released the shackles last time out and with no longer having to worry about his Test spot (he’s highly unlikely to get it back) he can just focus on the Bash and playing carefree, aggressive cricket.
This is a Test batsman we’re talking about, with lots of Bash experience, batting at 4 and up against a side where only Lynn is a consistent performer.
He’s also fresh from that MOM performance where he top scored with 52 and though I know some people swerve the man who’s just come good, I see things differently.
If you’re in form, you’re more likely to do it all over again in my opinion and the 11/2 is too good a price.
It’s 12/5 on Lynn while Englishman Joe Denly is 7/2. Jimmy Peirson is an interesting price at 10/1 but he generally bats at seven so you’d need a lot to go wrong with the Heat’s batting line-up to be in with a sniff. Not impossible, though.
Put your money on Mujeeb
Mujeeb Ur Rahman has finally become the finished product. He’s now got the necessary variations of line, length and pace, he can bowl just about anytime during the innings when he’s needed and is incredibly hard to get away.
All of the above explains why he’s got 11 wickets in six games at a strike rate of 13.0 and is going for just 6.2 runs an over. Those are arguably better figures than Afghan team-mate Rashid Khan over at the Strikers.
Mark Steketee rates the main danger after taking one more wicket than the young spinner and is just about a fair price at 3/1, but I’d rather go with the real class act.