The Strikers are worth a punt ahead of this one against the table-toppers but there could be more of the same from the Stars' Marcus Stoinis, says Jamie Pacheco...
"The Strikers are 2.14 and you can make a decent case for that price. They’re carrying momentum after winning their last two games and have their best batter back in Alex Carey."
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Stars
Wednesday January 22, 08:10
TV: live on BT Sport 1
Strikers eyeing up Top 2 place
The Strikers have put themselves in a good position to 'strike'. Six wins and four defeats leaves them in third place but a win here would see them leapfrog the Sydney Sixers into second place on net run rate.
A reminder that finishing in the Top 2 means you have two games in which to book your place in the final. It's the first time that the Big Bash has followed the blueprint of the IPL and teams are very aware of what a bonus that Top 2 finish is.
And talking of bouses, the Strikers should have Alex Carey back for this one after he returned from ODI duty.
He looked in good touch during that Series in India despite not getting a big score and is a huge boost to the Strikers' line-up. Given they also have Travis Head available till the end now, they can count on two excellent, international standard willow-men in their Top 4 now and are all the better for it.
Rauf exit giving the Stars a headache
The Stars aren't invincible after all. A rain-affected match against the Sixers with a reduction of overs saw them suffer just their second defeat of the campaign. But there were two important factors that contributed to that.
The first is that had Nic Maddison not had a shocker batting at three, they may well have chased a stiff-looking 143 off 14 overs. But when a bloke hits just 16 off 18 without striking a single boundary when you need to go at 10 an over, you're going to be struggling to chase that total.
But the damage had mostly been done before Maddison arrived at the crease. Perhaps it's not that surprising that they went for so many, given who they were missing with the ball.
Haris Rauf, the find of the tournament, returned to Pakistan to prepare for his first-ever call up to play for his country in an upcoming T20 series against Bangladesh, Adam Zampa was playing for Australia and Nathan Coulter-Nile was unavailable with a niggle. The last two should be available for this one but they'll have to think about how to solve the huge gap left by Rauf's departure. Given they're desperate to win their first-eve Bash, they could do with getting their wallet out but it's hard to know which overseas players are available at this stage of proceedings. A few things for skipper Glenn Maxwell to think about.
Much more to like about the Strikers for this one
The Strikers are 11/102.14 and you can make a decent case for that price. They're carrying momentum after winning their last two games and have their best batter back in Alex Carey. They know how important this match is to them and are looking in good shape. I've said it before, but I'll say it again; Rashid Khan may be the only big-star name but this bowling unit of Travis Head (below) is as good as anyone's in the Big Bash tournament right now.
The Stars have done brilliantly up to now but it must be a little hard to motivate yourselves to win every match when you've already done all the hard work and a Top 2 finish is almost guaranteed. Add the exit of Rauf, the possible unavailability of Coulter-Nile and the fact that the likes of Maddison and Ben Dunk have been out of form in that middle-order and you can see why we're keen on the Strikers as outsiders, especially with home advantage.
Marcus Stoinis (2/1 for top Stars' bat) is almost guaranteed to be Big Bash Top Batsman for the campaign. Even when the Stars lost quite comfortably on Monday, he still hit 62 off 37 to keep them in the hunt. That was his fifth win in this market in 12.
When looking for a top batsman bet, you tend to either look for a middle-order batsman at a big price who may not have much to beat if the top order is suspect, or an opening batsman at a less fancy price, who's a champion.
Stoinis obviously comes under the second category and he'll be aware as anyone that Glenn Maxwell (10/3) aside, no-one else has been in particularly great shape with the bat. Which explains why Stoinis has looked to stay at the crease longer, even if his strike rate is occasionally down a bit.
Maxwell ranks as the obvious danger but there's no reason why Stoinis can't come good once again.
It was a little bit annoying that last time out our wager Peter Siddle took the first wicket of the innings but after going for 19 runs off two overs, that's as much as he bowled so we never got a proper chance.
I still maintain he's the value wager at 7/2 in this Strikers' line-up for top bowler honours, though Wes Agar at 4/1 is one to keep an eye on as well, after taking four wickets last time out and two the time before that.
The favourite as ever is Khan at 21/10, but either of those two look better value right now.
JAMIE'S BIG BASH P/L 2019/20
Points Staked: 21
Points Returned: 18.95
Back the Strikers to win @ 11/102.14
Back Marcus Stoinis to be Stars Top Batsman @ 2/1