The two sides occupying the bottom two places in he table go head-to-head on Tuesday and the brilliant Test match spinner Nathan Lyon could be the one making the difference for the Sixers, says Jamie Pacheco.
"Australia’s loss was the Sixers’ gain as proved by the fact that he’s (Nathan Lyon) taken six wickets in three games with a superb economy rate of 4.91. He was man-of-the-match when the Sixers beat the Stars a couple of weeks ago returning figures of 3/18 and at odds of 12/1 there’s no reason why he can’t go out and do it all over again."
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
Tuesday, 08:40 GMT
Sixers much improved with Lyon and Henriques in the team
I must admit I quite fancied the Sixers at the start of the season. After all, they were last year's runners-up and reminded me a bit of the very successful Northants in the English T20 Blast game where everyone has a specific role and just sticks to it. If only they could negotiate their way to the semis, they could then count on the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood once they were free of ODI commitments. If only...
It all went wrong for the first half of the group stages before a revival in the second half. Many noted that their collapse coincided with Moises Henriques' absence for personal reasons and their recovery came about when he returned. Not that he was actually that prolific with the bat; he just seems to be a sort of talisman. Another (probably more important factor) was the availability of Nathan Lyon after Test duties. Is it any coincidence that when he wasn't called up by Australia for the ODI Series they've gone 3-0 down and that when he started playing for the Sixers they started winning? Yeah, 'Gary' is that good.
Kevin Pietersen's overdue swansong
I've previewed a fair few Stars games this season and I don't want to sound like a broken record discussing what went wrong in any great depth so I'll do it super-quickly. The two English imports- Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen- have gone a bit stale. But to be fair the Stars have addressed the issue and they won't come back next year.
They could take a leaf out of the Perth Scorchers' book (or the Sixers for that matter) and recruit players for set roles rather than just chucking in a few talented all-rounders and hope for the best. It's hard to say whether this year's skipper John Hastings failed in his job or whether this lot are just unmanageable.
As for Glenn Maxwell, I like him and love the way he plays T20 cricket, but if he wants to get a game for Australia in any format, he'd be better off performing in the Big Bash rather than moaning about his omission.
Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa are away on ODI duty, Luke Wright is injured. KP plays his last-ever game for the Stars.
Sixers justified favourites but not at that price
It's hard to make a case for the disgruntled Stars in terms of winning the match but then again it's hard to make a case for backing the Sixers at odds of just [1.65]. After all, they haven't been that much better than the Melbourne boys, only a bit better. Maybe the Sixers win is one to include in a Betfair Multiple with something else but as a single, the returns don't justify the risk.
It's hard to see why the Australian selectors have given Nathan Lyon the cold shoulder in the ODIs. He bowled beautifully in the Tests, has bundles of experience on his side and always gives his all. For some reason they decided the Stars' Zampa was the one to go with. Team results and personal stats suggest he wasn't.
Australia's loss was the Sixers' gain as proved by the fact that he's taken six wickets in three games with a superb economy rate of 4.91. He was man-of-the-match when the Sixers beat the Stars a couple of weeks ago returning figures of 3/18 and at odds of 12/1 there's no reason why he can't go out and do it all over again in terms of picking up the MOM gong. Especially given the Sixers are pretty likely to win the match.
Somehow I don't think there will be a fairytale finish to KP's Stars' career by top-scoring here. He's 13/5. Maxwell, he of the first-ball reverse sweeps and unorthodox flicks is actually the team's top scorer but odds of 16/5 aren't great, either. With Peter Handscomb (7/2) at least you get the security of knowing he'll open and is in form after hitting 41, 14 and 57 in his last three outings.
But given the number of batting collapses this season, you might as well go with James Faulkner at far bigger odds of 11/1. He's the side's fourth highest runscorer and has the highest average of anyone in the squad in this year's edition.