Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars Big Bash Tips: Larkin the man to follow

Marcus Stoinis
Stoinis opens for Stars

Ed Hawkins picks out an 8/1 top-bat pick as the Big Bash tournament gets underway from the SCG on Sunday...

"Larkin has batted at No 3 in four of his last five games. He top scored in two of them and tied in the other"

(0.5pts) Back Nick Larkin top Stars bat 9.08/1

Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
Sunday 5 December, 08:35
TV: live on Sky Sports

Sixers the team to beat

The Sixers have won the last two titles and are well-set for another tilt at the trophy. They have an excellent squad and can field well-balanced XIs.

They may not be too disappointed, either, to have lost Carlos Brathwaite to injury. Chris Jordan, signed for five games as a replacement, gives them decent options across all three disciplines.

The Sixers' strength is undoubtedly with the bat. Josh Philippe and James Vince are a gung-ho opening pair and look at the depth with Moises Henriques down at No 6.

The chief concern is with the ball. Last year they were seventh out of eighth on econ-omy. They need to tighten up.

Sixers could be without Sean Abbott who is in the Australia A squad to take on Eng-land Lions from Thursday.

Possible XI (boundary % last 2 years): Philippe (17.6), Vince (16.2), Hughes (14.5), Christian (26.1), Silk (12.7), Henriques (16), T Curran (19.1), Abbott (10.3), Dwarshius (15.4), O'Keefe (7.6), Bird (6.9)

Stars strong

The Stars are our pick for glory. We are enamoured with a settled and confident side who should go very close to winning their first title.

When Qais Ahmed arrives after the Abu Dhabi T10 they will be able to bowl 12 overs of mean spin with the excellent Adam Zampa, fresh from guiding Australia to the T20 World Cup trophy, calling the shots.

Until then, Stars could well pair pace duo Liam Hatcher and Billy Stanlake. It gives them potency if a little pricey.

The opening partnership of Joe Clarke and Marcus Stoinis is hugely exciting. With Clarke taking the gloves they can bat all the way down to No 8 with Nathan Coulter-Nile, whose all-round skills possibly make him their best asset.

Probable XI: Stoinis (18.5), Clarke (26.3), Larkin (17), Maxwell (18.2), Burns (12.5), Cart-wright (16.9), Rainbird (14.2), Coulter-Nile (21), Hatcher, Stanlake (0), Zampa (8.6)

Pitch report

The average first-innings score in almost 50 games at the SCG is 161. There's a slight bias for the chaser, which is not surprising considering Sixers have had issues defending in the past and are absolute gun chasers themselves.

More than 160 has been busted five times in the last seven full 20-over affairs. We're keen, then, on the 5/6 that both teams bust 150 while the 15/8 that both score 160 is also a good bet. Twice last year these two were involved in run fests.

The weather forecast isn't brilliant but forecasts don't expect more than 10% chance of rain during game time.

Plenty of potential for movement

The Sixers are 1.834/5 with Stars 2.186/5. That is fair enough considering Sixers are the champions and they have won the last five on the head-to-head.

But we'd be happy to take them on in-play. We're looking for the Stars to chase and Sixers to get off to a reasonable start.

We have faith that Stars, with Stoinis, Clarke and Glenn Maxwell to the fore, can chase up to 180. In which case we should be looking for at least 2.506/4.

Tops value

There's a wrong price klaxon going off for the top Stars bat. Nick Larkin at 8/1 is big considering he has batted at No 3 in four of his last five games. He top scored in two of them and tied in the other.

Clarke also looks chunky at 7/2 because we expect him to open with Stoinis, who is 21/10. Maxwell is too short at 9/4 considering he's likely to bat at No 4.

Other prices of note include Ben Dwarshius at 7/2 for top Sixers bowler. He should bowl at the death and we're surprised he's not favourite.

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