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Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Stars

WHERE AND WHEN

Gabba at 6.30pm

BRISBANE HEAT CAMPAIGN:

Game 1 – lost to Sydney Sixers by seven wickets (with eight balls remaining) at SCG (16/12)
v Melbourne Stars at Gabba (20/12)
v Perth Scorchers at WACA (29/12)
v Adelaide Strikers at Gabba (3/1)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Gabba (6/1)
v Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium (12/1)
v Sydney Thunder at Gabba (17/1)

MELBOURNE STARS CAMPAIGN:

Game 1 – lost to Sydney Thunder by six wickets (with six balls remaining) at MCG (17/12)
v Brisbane Heat at ‘Gabba (20/12)
v Sydney Sixers at SCG (27/12)
v Perth Scorchers at MCG (4/1)
v Melbourne Renegades at MCG (7/1)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (9/1)
v Adelaide Strikers at MCG (19/1)

KEY PLAYERS:

He has fallen slightly out of favour with the national selectors in recent years, but James Hopes is still a huge threat for any opposition side at any level. The 33-year-old is a genuine all-rounder who can do a job with the bat, ball or in the field. Hopes hasn’t featured in an Australian side since October last year, so he’s had plenty of time to adjust to the domestic level. He hasn’t been in the best form of his life of late, however he did pick up a nice four-wicket haul against Victoria in a Ryobi One-Day Cup match against Victoria recently. He was a little disappointing in the first match against the Sydney Sixers, but still the Heat captain can’t be underestimated.

You could probably call David Hussey the perfect T20 player. He is an outstanding batsman, who can adapt to certain situations quicker than Usain Bolt can run 100 metres. But the 34-year-old is just as effective with the ball and in the field, taking 44 wickets and 89 catches in domestic T20 cricket. Hussey’s flexibility across all disciplines makes him a big asset for the Stars and one of the most valuable recruits across the league. He is also incredibly consistent and reliable, so you will always know what you’re going to get with him. Hussey hit a breathtaking half-century against the Sydney Thunder on Saturday and will look to continue that form tonight.

BRISBANE HEAT LIKELY TEAM:

1. Matthew Hayden
2. Brendon McCullum (WK)
3. James Hopes (C)
4. Chris Lynn
5. Dan Christian
6. Andrew Robinson
7. Peter Forrest
8. Nathan Hauritz
9. Ryan Harris
10. Alister McDermott/Michael Neser
11. Nick Buchanan

MELBOURNE STARS LIKELY TEAM:

1. Rob Quiney
2. Matthew Wade (WK)
3. George Bailey
4. David Hussey
5. Cameron White (C)
6. Adam Voges
7. Luke Wright
8. James Faulkner
9. Clint McKay
10. Shane Warne
11. Jade Dernbach/Jackson Bird

WHO WINS?

Most punters were expecting these teams to be two of the most dominant in the competition. But after their performances in the first round, you could excuse punters for retracting their statements and regretting putting money on.

Brisbane batted at a Test match tempo against the Sydney Sixers on Friday night, reaching 8-139 off its 20 overs. If it wasn’t for a quick fire 32 from Dan Christian, the Heat’s total could have been even lower. Then their bowlers failed to hit good lines and lengths in reply, with four bowlers going at over seven runs per over as Sixers captain Brad Haddin (76) led his team to a six-wicket victory.

However Melbourne was just as unconvincing, going down to a David Warner-inspired Sydney Thunder by six wickets. The Stars’ top order struggled to find the boundary, with most batsmen struggling to keep their strike rates above 100, barring Hussey who made a graceful 52. The bowlers then didn’t have anything to counter the brilliance of Warner – not even the great Shane Warne – who blasted 102 not out and saw his team home with an over to spare.

After two frustrating losses, motivation will surely not be an issue for either team tonight. Both will be keen to get some redemption. The key is to build partnerships, whether batting or bowling, to try and put on as much pressure as possible.

The battle between Warne and Matthew Hayden, two good mates from way back, will be fascinating. As will the contest between Ryan Harris, perhaps Australia’s best fast bowler at the moment, and the Stars’ top order.

Brisbane looks much sounder with Harris back in the line-up. However that experienced batting line-up of the Stars should be way too good for the Heat’s bowling attack. Expect the likes of Rob Quiney, Matthew Wade and Cameron White to perform much better this time round.

BEST BETS:

Melbourne Stars to win ($1.85 – Centrebet)

David Hussey Stars High Bat ($5.00 – Sportsbet)

Ryan Harris Heat Most Wickets ($3.75 – Centrebet)