The Perth Scorchers can all but book a home semi-final when it hosts the Melbourne Stars in front of a sold-out crowd at #TheFurnace in the KFC Big Bash League on Saturday night.
The Scorchers returned to top spot with Wednesday’s 27-run win over the Brisbane Heat, improving to a 4-2 record and putting one hand on a finals spot.
On the other hand, the third-placed Stars can leapfrog the Scorchers at the summit with a victory of their own, meaning there’s plenty at stake.
Sam Whiteman (concussion) is out, bringing wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Inglis into the squad as a replacement player for Mitch Marsh who is out with Australia ODI duty.
The Stars have their own list of outs, with Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner all unavailable with ODI duty.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Stars are one of few sides with a better record against the Scorchers, holding a 5-4 advantage. Last season the Stars knocked off Perth twice including the 52-run defeat at #TheFurnace which cost the Scorchers a home semi-final. The two clubs have also faced off in four semi-finals.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The last meeting was the Stars only semi-final triumph over the Scorchers. Melbourne got up by seven wickets with 11 balls to spare at the MCG, inspired by Kevin Pietersen’s 62. Perth could only manage 7-139 from their 20 overs and struggled to take wickets with the ball.
Andrew Tye didn’t have the best game against the Brisbane Heat on Wednesday, until he came on and took a hat-trick, as you do. Tye finished with 4-22 from 3.2 overs, meaning he’s claimed nine wickets at an average of 15.66 with an economy rate of 6.31. His form has already brought calls for an Australia T20 International recall.
Rob Quiney has been a surprise packet at the top of the order for the Stars. In fact, he’s been such a surprise that the Stars have only used him in three of their five games, but with their Aussie ODI players out, he’s come back in to good effect. Quiney’s scores of 75, 51 and 31 have come at a good click of 174.44.
All-rounder Marcus Stoinis and spinner Michael Beer are both former Scorchers, with the latter traded for James Muirhead ahead of BBL|04. Stars captain David Hussey was born and bred in Western Australia but never played for the state.
It’s time, surely it’s time. Shaun Marsh hasn’t got going in BBL|06, so he’s overdue. On song, Marsh is one of the best T20 batsmen in the world. Unfortunately, only 59 runs in five knocks have been forthcoming for Sos but a big knock must be around the corner. Let’s hope it’s on Saturday night.
It’s hard to go past Kevin Pietersen. The Englishman has blasted 180 runs in four games for the Stars and everybody knows his threat. KP has hit 19 fours and five sixes at a strike rate of 150. He’s yet to score single figures, so he’s getting himself into his innings and seems content taking on a lead role in the batting line-up.
Perth Scorchers v Melbourne Stars
KFC Big Bash League
Saturday 14 January 2017, 6:15pm WST
Broadcast: Network TEN & Macquarie Radio Network | Live Scores: Cricket.com.au
Perth Scorchers squad: Michael Klinger (c), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Hilton Cartwright, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Cameron Valente.
Melbourne Stars squad: David Hussey (c), Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Liam Bowe, Jackson Coleman, Cameron Gannon, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Ben Hilfenhaus, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Luke Wright