Ed Hawkins fears poor weather could make the showpiece a farce at the SCG on Saturday...
"With Sportsbook going 7/2 Maxwell and 2/1 Stoinis the greater punting edge is with the former but with reduced overs likely it may pay to get with Stoinis"
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars
Saturday 8 February, 08:00
Live on BT Sport
The Sydney Sixers started the Bash campaign full of verve and skill, if a little chaotic. The addition of Australia's Test big guns (Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood) has soon knocked that out of them and they now resemble a winning machine, perfectly balanced.
The defeat of Stars in the qualifier was their fourth consecutive success. Their only weakness appeared to be the hole left at No 7 by Tom Curran, who is with England. But that was promptly filled by Sean Abbott, returned from injury.
The Sixers' strongest suit is chasing - a win rate of 65% in the last five editions. They are not so hot defending a target. Or rather, posting a score. They average 142 batting first, apt because that was the score they managed against the Stars last time. Their win rate, thanks to the Stars collapse in that game, won't budge our of the 30s.
Probable XI Philippe, Hughes, Vince, Smith, Henriques, Hughes, Silk, Abbott, Dwarshius, Lyon, Hazlewood
Stars are reluctant heroes. Still seeking their first title they seem to have been on a mission of self-destruction ever since they had the league sewn up with games to spare.
Victory over Sydney Thunder in the last chance saloon was a relief considering they had lost four in a row previously. One of those was against the Sixers in the qualifier and it was a stinker. Needing 143 for an home final they collapsed.
It exposed worrying frailty. They played fast and loose with confidence and momentum in the end of the group stages, picking fringe players, giving Glenn Maxwell a day off from captaincy. And they have paid for it. Very few sides can just turn it on when it suits.
Marcus Stoinis and pace ace Haris Rauf do seem comfortable with the hero tag. With the bizarre reluctance to promote Maxwell, these two might have to do it on their own.
Probable XI Stoinis, Maddinson, Larkin, Maxwell, Handscomb, Gotch, Coulter-Nile, Hinchcliffe, Zampa, Worrall, Rauf
Bowlers in charge
The SCG, perhaps unsurprisingly considering of the Sixers' record, is a chasing ground. It's a 60% win rate in five years. The average first-innings score is coming in at 151 and 48% of teams bust more than 160 up front. It's not wise to be expecting a run glut here. The highest chase is 189.
Rain could hand Sixers title
Sixers and Stars are struggling to be pulled apart on the match odds market. Stars are narrow favourites at 20/211.96 with the Sixers 1/12.00.
Our feel, and it's with a heavy heart considering our pre-series tip of Stars, is that Sixers are the better side and have hit their straps at the right time. It should also be noted that Stars have been rocked by the loss of spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and opener Hylton Cartwright.
On the head-to-head Sixers have won two of the three meetings this season. They have won five of the last eight, too. It is a 3-3 split at the SCG, though.
The shrewd advice, given the toss bias and both teams boasting better records as chasers, is to get with the home team only if the toss goes their way. There is also a big rain threat. Thunderstorms are forecast and with no reserve day there are fears of a washout. A minimum five overs per team are required. If not, Sixers will be champions as best qualifiers. This is why Sixers are as short as 1/91.11 on the tournament outright with Stars 8/19.20.
It is therefore wise not to get carried away on overs on the side markets. Obviously any reduction in overs is going to make your bet a bad one.
Stoinis has good numbers behind him
Stoinis (three wins in last eight) will be all the rage for top Stars bat. And why not. He looked in sensational touch against Thunder with a match-winning knock from the No 1 position. Importantly, he has a brilliant record against Sixers, averaging 51. Maxwell is not far behind, though, on 47. He has not top batted for eight straight games now.
On last three-seasons data Maxwell has a win rate of 35%. That has dipped by more than five per cent this term. It suggests he should be more like 15/8. As for Stoinis, this is only the second season he has opened. Over those two seasons (opening only) his rate is 38%. He also smashed a record 147 against Sixers this term. With Sportsbook going 7/2 Maxwell and 2/1 Stoinis the greater punting edge is with the former but with reduced overs likely it may pay to get with Stoinis.
Sixers openers Josh Philippe and Dan Hughes are 11/4 and 17/2 respectively. The latter price is very big indeed. Steve Smith is 5/2, which doesn't shout value.
Stars to win BBL 11/26.4 (1pt)
Josh Philippe top Sixers bat 9/2 (3pts)
Listen to Ed Hawkins and Kiwi cricket writer Andrew Alderson ask: why do Kiwis choke? This week's episode of Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l