The Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder will meet at an interesting neutral venue on Saturday night in a Big Bash League encounter that has taken on added importance this week.
One look at the newly-released Australian ODI squad will tell you that the Melbourne Stars desperately need to win as many games as possible before losing their best three players on international duty.
Stars captain Glenn Maxwell, hard-hitting all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and leg-spinner Adam Zampa — the three pillars of the Melbourne line-up — have all been named to play in the three international ODIs between January 12-18.
The Stars (2-2), will need to cash in on the wins, starting on Saturday against the Sydney Thunder.
Maxwell’s men will look to build upon an impressive win in the Melbourne Derby on Tuesday when they thumped the Melbourne Renegades by seven wickets with three overs in hand on the back of an ultra-impressive 78 from Stoinis, who opened the innings.
West Indian import, Dwayne Bravo (3/27), was also handy with the ball and Nepalese spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane was a handful again.
For the Sydney Thunder (3-2), the young 2018/2019 BBL season has produced solid results thus far.
English wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has been devastating at the top of the Thunder batting order and Sydney has had quality contributions from Callum Ferguson, Shane Watson and late-order power hitter Daniel Sams along the way.
The fact that the Thunder won’t lose any of its key components to international duty must make them a finals contender at this stage.
Top run-scorer tips for Stars vs. Thunder
$3.40 @ Sportsbet
A move to open the innings on Tuesday against the Renegades brought out the best in Stoinis, who was clinical and powerful against a hapless Renegades bowling attack. Will Stoinis, who has historically came in at number 4 or 5 in the order, open the innings again? We can’t go past the man in red-hot form here.
$3.30 @ Sportsbet
Talking about men in red-hot form, Jos Buttler has proven to be one of the very best international pick-ups in the entire BBL this season after five matches. Buttler, with 250 runs, has the highest average in the competition at 50 and has scored 60 more runs than the second-best run-scorer on the league table. While the Englishman is in town and opening the innings, we suggest cashing in on his hot run.
Stars vs. Thunder match winner betting tip
Curiously for obvious, ridiculous, marketing reasons, the match between the Stars and Thunder is being played in a Queensland city, in front of a crowd that will be about as interested as an atheist at church.
So, punters can rule out any home advantage and look purely at the playing match-ups.
Given the way the Stars dismantled the Renegades and the hot batting form of its gun players, we’re backing in the Melbourne mob to get the job done.
Our tip: Back the Stars to win at $1.90
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