Sydney Thunder are favorites to win
Melbourne Stars, back in form, face Sydney Thunder – who also got back to winning ways last time out – on the Gold Coast in the 2018/19 Big Bash League. The match is scheduled for January 5 and the live action begins at 17:15 local time.
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Melbourne Stars have won their last two matches batting second, whereas the Thunder won batting first last time out. Both sides might favour the same combination.
Read on for team previews, betting tips, latest odds and match prediction for Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder (Big Bash League).
Jonathan Merlo made his Melbourne Stars’ debut in the win against Melbourne Renegades but did not bat or bowl. He was drafted into the squad along with Seb Gotch after Peter Handscomb’s test recall, while Jackson Coleman missed out for personal reasons. Gotch is likely to continue behind the stumps in place of Handscomb but, if he is available again, Coleman could be set for a recall – particularly after his excellent bowling in the win against Sydney Sixers. England all-rounder Liam Plunkett will replace Sandeep Lamichhane in the squad, after the Nepalese spinner departed for the Bangladesh Premier League. If Melbourne opt for a spinner instead, however, Michael Beer could return to the starting XI.
Marcus Stoinis took advantage of being promoted up the order in the win against Melbourne Renegades, smashing an unbeaten 78 from 49 balls to lead the Stars’ chase. The Australian international also took two wickets with the ball, making his first major contribution of this year’s BBL.
Captain Glenn Maxwell hit 33, meanwhile, to follow his 47 against the Hobart Hurricanes. Like Stoinis, Maxwell was in the Australia squad for the T20i series against India and South Africa in November – his big-hitting T20 reputation goes before him.
Dwayne Bravo remains an overseas player with the Stars, after Sandeep Lamichhane's departure for the Bangladesh Premier League. Bravo claimed 3-27 last time out and has six wickets from four games. Jackson Coleman could return, meanwhile, after claiming 3-18 in the win against Sydney Sixers.
Melbourne Stars won just two of their ten matches in 2017/18 and started the current campaign with back-to-back defeats too – losing by 15 runs via the D/L method in a rain-hit first game against Sydney Thunder, having reached 74/6 from eight overs in reply to Sydney’s 181/5 from the full complement of overs.That was followed by a six-wicket defeat to Hobart Hurricanes, despite Glenn Maxwell scoring 47 in a total of 155/5 and Sandeep Lamichhane taking 3-24 from four overs in the reply. Jackson Coleman’s 3-18 restricted Sydney Sixers to 130/9 in their next match, however, and Peter Handscomb smashed 70 from 35 balls as the Stars won by five wickets with 5.1 overs remaining.
That thrashing reinvigorated the Stars, and they backed it up with victory in the Melbourne Derby on New Year’s Day. Dwayne Bravo took 3-27 as the Renegades posted 148/9, and Marcus Stoinis’ unbeaten 78 from 49 balls ensured the chase was always under control – storming to a seven-wicket win with 2.1 overs remaining.
Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Glenn Maxwell, Seb Gotch, Dwayne Bravo, Nick Larkin, Evin Gulbis, Adam Zampa, Jackson Coleman, Scott Boland, Michael Beer
Gurinder Sandhu made his first appearance since the win against Melbourne Stars in their opening match when he faced Perth Scorchers last time out. Replacing Arjun Nair in the only change from the game against Adelaide Strikers, Sandhu tool 0-13 from two overs. Jonathan Cook’s superb bowling will likely see him retain his place, and the composition of the bowling line-up may finally be settled. Batting-wise, however, England test captain Joe Root has struggled so far and his place could be in danger – though he may get a final chance to impress before the Australian test players return.
Jos Buttler’s half-century in the win against Perth Scorchers last time out was his third of the tournament so far, and he now has 250 runs from his five innings. That includes 63 from 37 balls in the derby against Sydney Sixers and a huge 89 from 54 balls against Hobart Hurricanes, before his patient 55 from 50 balls last time out.
Callum Ferguson has started to hit good form too – the former Aussie international has hit 47 and 42 in his last two innings. With Shane Watson and Joe Root yet to show their best form, if all four tick at the same time, that is an explosive top order at the Thunder’s disposal.
With the ball, Daniel Sams claimed 3-5 from two overs the last time these two teams met and has eight wickets for the tournament so far. He conceded 18 from the final over last time out, but with 20 to defend it was just enough to secure victory. It was Jonathan Cook (1-13 from four overs) and Fawad Ahmed (2-22 from four) who put the brakes on the Perth Scorchers’ innings, however, with some superb bowling.
Sydney Thunder started this year’s Big Bash League well, including their opening game win against Melbourne Stars. Jason Sangha hit 63* from 36 balls as they posted 181/5 and, though rain restricted the Stars’ reply to eight overs, Sydney were 16 runs ahead on the DLS method. That was followed by a Sydney derby win, meanwhile, with Jos Buttler smashing 63 from 37 balls in a 21-run win.
Two defeats followed, despite Buttler hitting 89 from 54 balls against the Hobart Hurricanes – the Thunder failing to defend their total of 193/6 – while they were well short against Adelaide Strikers, scoring 155/6 in reply to 175/4. Sydney Thunder got back to winning ways last time out, however. Buttler scored 55 from 54 balls in a total of 142/6 and the spin bowlers did enough to earn a one-run win – despite the Scorchers scoring 18 off the final over.
Jos Buttler, Shane Watson, Callum Ferguson, Joe Root, Jason Sangha, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Gurinder Sandhu, Jonathan Cook, Sam Rainbird, Fawad Ahmed
Sydney Thunder have already beaten Melbourne Stars once in this year’s Big Bash League, in both teams’ opening fixture. Jason Sangha hit an unbeaten 63 in a total of 181/5 and Melbourne’s rain-affected reply saw them reach 74/6 from eight overs – losing by 15 runs on the DLS method.
In total, these two teams have played each other nine times and Sydney Thunder have won six of those matches – Melbourne only have a worse record against Brisbane Heat of all the Big Bash teams.
With both teams back to winning ways, the bookmakers are split and Bet365 are offering 1.90 on both Melbourne Stars to win and Sydney Thunder to win. Betway have priced them both at 1.83. The Thunder have a good record against the Stars, however, and have already beaten them once this season.
They also have Jos Buttler in their armoury and the in-form England batsman is 3.20 with Betfair to top score for Sydney Thunder after three half-centuries in five matches. Callum Ferguson (5.50 with Betfair) could be another option, however, given he has hit 47 and 42 in his last two matches.
In Peter Handscomb’s absence, Melbourne Stars will be relying on Marcus Stoinis (4.00 to top score with Bet365) and captain Glenn Maxwell (4.33 with Bet365) for runs. The two Australian internationals are key but Stoinis looks the better bet if he is to open the batting again.
Jos Buttler is leading the batting charts at the moment and, with the England man firing, Sydney Thunder can charge to victory against Melbourne Stars for the second time this season.
Final Verdict: Back Sydney Thunder to beat Melbourne Stars at 1.90 with Bet365 and 1.83 with Betway.