Boxing Day sees the Stars take on the Sixers in Queensland and Matt Harris is backing Melbourne to edge a tight contest.
"Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are the two batsmen who can take this game away from the Sixers very quickly."
Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers
Saturday, December 26th, 10:20 GMT
Live on BT Sport
Stars on the rise
Melbourne Stars return after the festive break needing a win to go back to the top of the table. Rain in Launceston last Wednesday robbed Glenn Maxwell's side of the chance to maintain the only 100% record in BBL10 but all looks to be well in the Stars' camp at this early stage.
The Melbourne franchise will be without Nic Maddinson due to Queensland border issues but Nicholas Pooran is ready to step up after making his debut in last week's rain affected game. Presumably Ben Dunk will come in for Maddinson to lengthen a batting unit where Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis have already made runs. Stars would like to see more contributions from their overseas players but the depth of batting will be key moving forward.
Wickets have been shared around with Maxwell using up to eight bowlers at times so there is depth in the attack too.
Sydney's six hitting keeps them in the hunt
The Sixers lived up to their name against the Strikers last time out as Dan Christian struck the second fastest fifty in Big Bash history. At 58/3 in the 11th over, Sydney looked to be out of the contest but Christian's 50 from 16 balls, backed up by 46 from the skipper Dan Hughes, saw 119 runs added from the last nine overs.
With Jason Holder pulling his first delivery in Big Bash cricket over the boundary, the Sixers proved that they have depth to match the Stars in the batting department. Holder now joins the bowling attack to make the men in magenta a far better all-round side than the one that lost to Hobart on the opening day.
Metricon makes its debut
The Metricon Stadium on Queensland's Gold Coast makes its BBL10 debut but it's provided a home, on occasions, to both the Stars and Brisbane Heat since 2019. Three matches here last season produced an average first innings score of 163 and it might be useful to note that all three games were won by the side batting first.
There's no threat of rain and on a clear warm night it could be a case of winning the bat flip and looking to post 175 as a minimum target.
Two places and three points separate these two sides and both come into this match with two wins from three. Given that Sydney Sixers are building up some momentum this could have been a tighter match result market but the Stars are the clear favourites at 1.824/5. Dan Hughes' Sixers are close behind and can be picked up at 2.111/10.
The teams look similarly matched in all departments and this could be even closer than those figures suggest. It's tempting to take the outside bet but, based on an expectation that two key players in the Stars camp will fire on Boxing Day, we'll take the men from Melbourne this time.
Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are the two batsmen who can take this game away from the Sixers very quickly. Maxwell has left his wretched IPL form in the UAE and is currently sixth in the race for the Golden Cap with 85 runs from two knocks. Stoinis is yet to really fire but 61 from 37 balls against Sydney Thunder suggests he can still finish as the tournament's leading run scorer for the second season in succession.
Stoinis is currently favourite on the sportsbook at [23/10] to top score for the Stars on Saturday while Maxwell follows at [10/3]. Other options include Nicholas Pooran and Andre Fletcher who are both at [7/2] while Ben Dunk is an outside tempter at [11/1]. You could even hedge and stake on both the first and second favourites but we'll back Maxwell to extend his solid form with the bat.
As always, there are many options for the final bet of the day. Sydney to hit the most maximums at 13/10 is a promising pick and the outsiders can deliver here even if they lose the game. Elsewhere, Jason Holder to finish as Sixers' leading wicket taker may also offer value at 7/2.
Having arrived as a late replacement for Sunrisers Hyderabad at the IPL, the West Indies captain made himself indispensable and, if the favourites are to be upstaged in this match, Holder is likely to have played a pivotal role.
Matt Harris' BBL P/L