Ed Hawkins looks at the power players who have pushed the Stars to the brink of glory ahead of Sunday's showpiece...
"The top bowler market is not as clear cut although Stoinis is leading the column for most wins"
Stars by nature
A little over a month ago Melbourne Stars looked nothing like Big Bash title contenders. They had suffered a terrible beating by Hobart Hurricanes - from ball one they weren't in the game - to look like a team more prone to finishing bottom.
Bowling first they conceded 185 with a mediocre and wayward bowling attack pure fodder. The only names to hang your hat on were Jackson Bird and Dwayne Bravo, who desperately tried to stem the flow. They were then razed when it was their turn to bat. Again they were desperately low on quality. Where were the power players to striker fear into the opposition?
The answer, of course, was with Australia. In that match there was no Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb or Adam Zampa. Sandeep Lamichhane, the Nepal whizzkid, was also absent by the way. They are, literally, a totally different team. Or at least one with a new spine of match-winners who will worry cross-town rivals the Renegades.
With all their best men available their surge to the final has not taken many by surprise. The all-round abilities of Stoinis and Maxwell, for example, are pretty much unmatched while Zampa and Lamichhane weaving their webs in tandem is the envy of the competition.
Naturally, punters will flock to this core to make profits. So it is worth understanding who is scoring their runs and taking their wickets for the purpose of the respective 'tops' markets.
There is little mystery here. It is impossible to look past Stoinis and Maxwell for top-bat honours. Stoinis, newly-decorated with the Australia ODI player of the year award, has been a sensation in the opening berth, taking the pressure of Ben Dunk and being a relative colossus at the crease.
He has copped four times in his 12 appearances, which would make him a 2/1 shot. Importantly two of those were against Renegades in easy victories. This is something of a turnaround in franchise cricket. He previously had a ten per cent hit rate. It just shows what opening the batting can do.
Maxwell, though, has four tops and one shared honours from his 12. In franchise cricket overall he cops at a rate of a 3/1 chance. And he certainly looked as hot as that against Hobart Hurricanes in the semi-final when he marshalled the chase with an assured 43.
Of their rivals, sorry team-mates, no-one really comes close to breaking the dominance. Ben Dunk has topped twice. And that's as good as it gets. Peter Handscomb's return of one win is slightly disappointing.
Lamichhane a fancy
The top bowler market is not as clear cut although Stoinis is leading the column for most wins. He has two and two ties, pipping Lamichhane and Bravo both with two wins and a tie. For clarity, we can look to the respective strike rates.
Stoinis is, would you believe, something of a sensation in this regard with a wicket every 10.7 balls. That's better than Lamichhane (14) and Bravo (20). Zampa, who has two shared honours, has a strike rate of 20.5.
A mention too for Dan Worrall, who blew away the Hurricanes top order in Hobart in the last-four. His strike rate is 12 although we have to be careful there because it was only his fourth game and previously he had two wickets.
Given Stoinis' stellar efforts with both bat and ball it is hard not to reckon that around 7/1 (check Betfair Sportsbook) about him taking the man of the match award. Mind you, Maxwell might have something to say about that.
2019 - points p-l: +21.77 (27 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +5.86 (87 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)
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