In urgent need of a win, Stars return to their home ground. Paul Krishnamurty says backing unders generally pays dividends at the MCG...
"Take evens about Under 9.5 Sixes. This bet has landed in 15 of the last 20 matches here."
Melbourne Stars v Adelaide Strikers
Friday, 08:15 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Will Stars improve back at the MCG?
The situation is getting critical for the early tournament favourites. Melbourne Stars - the perennial nearly-men of Big Bash with eight top-four appearances from nine renewals - sit second bottom with five games remaining. This is a must-win.
These two met on Wednesday with Strikers successfully chasing a sub-par 150. That was at the Adelaide Oval, whereas Stars now get to play at their usual home ground for the first time this season. Last season they won five from seven at the MCG.
Rashid exit a huge loss for Strikers
A further important difference is that Strikers will now have to do without Rashid Khan. Whilst well-placed in fourth, boasting a positive run-rate, staying in the play-off zone could be a struggle without their irreplaceable leggie.
To get their season moving again, Stars need batting support for Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell. They've contributed 532 runs but nobody else more than 132. Nicholas Pooran's very disappointing season is now over.
Rauf was superb at the MCG last term
Another key man for Stars is Haris Rauf. The paceman has been expensive in his two appearances so far but excelled at this ground last season, taking eight wickets in four matches. 14/1 for Man of the Match is definitely worth a poke.
The side batting first won the last five Big Bash matches at the MCG but that contrasts the longer trend. 13 of the last 20 were won by chasers, as were the last three internationals here.
The reverse fixture illustrated the difficulty, and frankly brain-ache, of evaluating and making predictions a day prior to the toss. The plan was to take higher odds about Strikers if they lost the toss. As it transpired, they lost it but shortened in the betting, the target went unmatched and they duly won.
Not a problem here as I've no strong opinion on the match odds. Stars are too short at 1.794/5 on the basis of their respective positions and the last match but, given the aforementioned change in ground and personnel, do warrant favouritism.
Backing unders generally pays here
There were some big totals at the MCG last year - three above 180 and a 219 - but that isn't the norm. 14 of the last 20 1st Innings Runs totals were below 160. 11 were below 150.
Backing 'Unders' is generally therefore a good play at this ground. Three bets are recommended. First on the runs, lay the 160 or more and 150 or more bands at 1.75/7 and 1.42/5 respectively.
Also, take evens about Under 9.5 Sixes. This bet has landed in 15 of the last 20 matches here.
Stoinis and Carey head top bat markets
Finally a quick word about the Top Runscorer markets. Stoinis is a prohibitive but fair 21/10 for Stars. If you're looking for somebody at big odds from the middle-order, Seb Gotch is worth considering at 25/1.
Alex Carey is 11/4 favourite for Strikers ahead of Phil Salt at 16/5. A case could easily be made for Jake Weatherald or Jon Wells at 11/2 based on their success-rate in this competitive market.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
Paul's 2020/21 Big Bash P/L: