Stars and Strikers could both return to near full-strength for tomorrow's match at the MCG, where Paul Krishnamurty says sixes line is clearly set too high...
"The Total Match Sixes line here is Over/Under 10.5. Unders has won in eight of the last nine Big Bash matches here. Taking the larger sample, it won 25 out of 30 matches. Even if we lowered the line to 9.5, the tally would be 24-6."
Melbourne Stars v Adelaide Strikers
Monday, 08:15 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Driven in no small part by Covid chaos, a two-tier points table has opened up. A top-four cruising into the play-offs, jostling for position. And a bottom-four, battling for the fifth and final spot. These two, placed in the bottom two spots but with games in hand, are in the thick of the latter race.
Stars heavily gambled after team news
Melbourne Stars have been decimated in recent games, but their 17-man squad for tomorrow's fixture at the MCG should now mean a stronger line-up. No Glenn Maxwell or Nathan Coulter-Nile, but something like the following: Clarke, Stoinis, Burns, Larkin, Cartwright, Webster, Hinchliffe, Zampa, Ahmad, Rauf, Couch.
Adelaide Strikers have been relatively unaffected and their squad details suggest they too could receive a big boost, with Travis Head and Alex Carey included. Their return would shore up their fundamental weakness - imbalance and a weak batting line-up - although it remains to be seen whether they will play with the final Ashes test looming. Predicted line-ups on other sites suggest not.
The final line-ups are liable to significantly impact the betting, and these squad announcements already have. Stars were matched at 2.6413/8 when the betting first opened but are now clear favourites at 1.715/7.
Toss advantage far from clear at the MCG
Such are the pitfalls of betting early in this particular Big Bash renewal, and that's before considering any potential toss bias. That isn't clear, either, and rather depends how far one looks back. The last two matches were won by the chaser. The last eight matches were tied 4-4. 12 of the last 19 were won by the defender but, stretch the sample to 30 matches, and we find a 60/40 advantage to the chaser. Make of that what you will!
My instinct is to avoid predicting the winner and focus on side markets. That aforementioned Stars line-up is definitely superior to the Strikers teams we've seen and they are at home. However there's too much uncertainty and Strikers do come in off a resounding, confidence-boosting win over Hobart.
Check these long-term sixes stats
My luck in the Sixes markets in this tournament has been, I must admit, an absolute nightmare so far, but one must persevere. When the trends and stats offer a clear pointer, we should follow. That is certainly the case at the MCG.
The Total Match Sixes line here is Over/Under 10.5. Unders has won in eight of the last nine Big Bash matches here. Taking the larger sample, it won 25 out of 30 matches. Even if we lowered the line to 9.5, the tally would be 24-6.
Moreover, these teams own stats point to a much lower line. Throughout the whole tournament, on different grounds (the MCG is the hardest to hit sixes), Stars average 5.1 per match, Strikers a mere 3.4. This simply has to mean a maximum stake bet on unders.
Clarke and Cartwright are in formidable form
Prior to missing the last match, Joe Clarke was showing the star potential we'd expected from the outset. He'd top-scored for Stars in three straight matches with fifty-plus scores. He's available at 5/1 for Top Match Batsman or 11/4 second favourite to top-score for his team. However given the bias towards batsmen in the Man of the Match market, I'd say 8/1 there is the best option.
Ditto the bang-in-form Hilton Cartwright at 14/1. These two have provided 25 of Stars' 41 sixes in the tournament, so backing them even represents something of a saver against the main bet.
Finally in the Top Melbourne Stars Bowler market, 3/1 is fair about Haris Rauf. He's liable to bowl at the death and is one of the world's best in that regard.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
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