Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Stars
Saturday, 06:05 GMT
Live on BT Sport
The betting signals imply a nearly perfectly even match as the Big Bash returns to the Blundstone Arena tomorrow morning. Based on their positions, prospects and recent pedigree in the tournament, that assessment makes sense. Going in, Hurricanes sit third, two places ahead of Stars, but have played an extra game.
Hurricanes back on winning track
Hobart will have been mightily relieved to return to winning ways against Heat last time. Early and middle overs wickets left them exposed to Mujeeb Ur Rahman at the death and at least ten runs short.
It needed another cracking effort from Riley Meredith and Scott Boland, with five cheap wickets, to restrict the chasers to below 150 and secure a single-run victory.
Considering they’ve had to do without Matthew Wade and that D’Arcy Short is struggling, Hurricanes are in a great position. In years past, that opening pair would have been essential to their progress. Now they have Dawid Malan to beef up the batting and the bowling unit is balanced and reliable.
Zampa banned for this match
From starting the tournament as favourites, and duly bagging two wins, the wheels have somewhat come off for Stars. Their bowlers conceded 414 runs in their last two matches and Adam Zampa is now banned for this match after an ‘audible obscenity’.
That loss of arguably their most effective bowler could prove critical here, as restricting scores to below sub-170 is the key at the Blundstone Arena.
170 required at high-scoring ground
There’s no long-term bias for batting first or second here but the trends are pretty clear. Of six matches this season, four first innings totals of 174 plus all proved comfortably enough while the two sub-160 scores were easily chased.
The par line for 1st Innings Runs will probably open around 165-170 but 200 is possible here. If Hobart bat first, try 185 or more at around 3.7511/4. If their top-order build the platform, Colin Ingram has the finishing power to take them to those big totals.
Stars are respected, more on the basis that they have so many potential match-winners with the bat. Stoinis and Fletcher haven’t produced yet but probably will. Glenn Maxwell has been explosive all winter for club and country.
Hobart well-equipped for title bid
However I prefer Hobart both today and for the season. Malan, who top-scored in his second match, and Ben McDermott are both expected to consistently contribute and the bowlers are a balanced, reliable unit.
At 6.25/1, they’re my pick among the current outright odds. I rate them very closely to the two leading Sydney sides and a win here would open a sizeable over Stars in the points table.
Employing my ‘25% rule’ - placing an order to back 25% higher than the starting odds - paid off last time with Hobart so let’s try that again. This time the order is at 2.56/4.
Short is the wrong favourite
The betting order for Top Hurricanes Batsman is extremely questionable. D’Arcy Short is boosted to 3/1, but is still no bigger than McDermott and shorter than Malan at 10/3, despite scoring two or less in four out of six innings this season.
For Stars, Stoinis is boosted to 5/2 but makes no appeal at those short odds. 5/1 about Nicholas Pooran is preferred.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty