BIG BASH SF #1
SCORCHERS v STARS
So, here we are! After a great season of action and entertainment, we are left with four teams in the Big Bash. Kicking off the semi-finals would be Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers at Perth on Tuesday, January 24.
Perth – road to semis
Never the one to be far from the top of the ladder, the Scorchers topped the league this year with ten points from eight games. It was tight at the top but their superior run-rate over Heat and Sixers meant that the Scorchers got the comfort of a home semi-final.
Their season has been defined by the performances of Michael Klinger and Ian Bell at the top of the order. And with Shaun Marsh getting back to form and fitness in the last match, it looks like the Scorchers of the old are up and running. With the ball, Mitchell Johnson has been really good and Tim Bresnan – the overseas replacement – is punching his weight too.
Stars – road to semis
The Stars qualified in fourth position with eight points from eight games. In fact, had it not been for the two successive losses in the last two rounds, they would have finished higher.
Most of the blame for the blip in their form should go to the fact that they lost five of their star players to international call-ups. Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis – that’s quite an array of stars to lose out.
Both the teams met earlier in the season in the same ground and it was the Stars that came up trumps in a match that they dominated. Scorchers won the toss and batted first but couldn’t find answers to the relentless pressure of Stars’ bowlers. Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus and Scott Boland took two wickets each as Scorchers were shot out for 134.
In reply, Rob Quiney, Kevin Pietersen and Stoinis made sure that the Stars never fell behind and gave them a straightforward victory. Though a lot has changed from then to now, the Stars would definitely want to channel that spirit.
Shaun Marsh is very vital for the Scorchers. That’s why his return to form in the final league game augurs well for them. If he can continue his striking prowess at the top, the hosts will be a difficult proposition to contend with.
For the Stars, look no further than KP. The talisman has gone quietly about his job and there’s a sense of senior statesman in his work this season. Wouldn’t he love to do the job when it’s most required!
Scorchers may well be the most consistent and successful franchise in the BBL history but they were anything but consistent this season. They haven’t been able to win back-to-back games since round four and also come on the backdrop of a loss to Stars in the league game. Back the Stars to reach the final at odds of 2.30 (Bet365).
Boland has been a silent performer for Stars this season with 12 wickets so far. His consistency makes him a top punt to be the Stars’ best bowler. Back him at odds of 3.75 to do so.