Stars’ finals focus results in third straight defeat
The Big Bash trophy is one traditionally captured with a sudden puff of momentum, and minor premier Melbourne Stars will enter Friday night's qualifying final at the MCG with none left.
After seven failed finals series in eight seasons, the green team knows all too well that it is the franchise that catches fire late that salutes.
Well, Sydney Sixers have Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon while Adelaide Strikers have four wins on the bounce. Brisbane Heat have A.B. de Villiers.
The Stars have three-straight losses … the worst rut in the league as they've officially spun out of control.
They've also lost Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal) to international duty and Hilton Cartwright (fractured hand) for the finals series.
Saturday night's 71-run pounding by bogey team the Heat was dominated by some box-office batting by A.B.
The South African magician - who also kept wickets last night - scored 13 runs off his first 16 balls and then 58 off his next 20 to thrill the MCG crowd.
Watch every single KFC BBL match LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO with FOX CRICKET's unmatched commentary line-up. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
While Nick Kyrgios battled away across the road, A.B. was full of aces as he hoiked six sexy sixes and put on a dazzling partnership with Test star Marnus Labuscahgne, who oddly came out at No.6.
But while the whiz-bang batting will be what the 27,676 fans went home talking about, it was the nature of the Stars' dismissals that will keep captain Glenn Maxwell and coach David Hussey awake.
Opener Marcus Stoinis cracked 16 runs off the first over, bowled by Matt Renshaw, to overtake D'Arcy Short's record of 602 runs in a home-and-away season, and then it went pear-shaped.
Double-strikes by James Pattinson and Mitchell Swepson silenced the crowd as Stoinis conceded his team had "one eye on the finals" … a dangerous mindset.
Nic Maddinson hasn't got out of the teens from his past nine knocks while even Maxwell has often been all or nothing, with three scores of less than three.
The Stars were finally skittled for 115 and have now lost seven out of their past nine games against Brisbane, while their overall record of 4-8 (33.3 per cent) is their worst across the league.
GIVE HUSS HIS CASH BACK
Moments after Shane Warne handed over his Baggy Green cap for charity, he called on Cricket Australia to give David Hussey his $2000 back.
The Stars coach was fined for joking with Brendon McCullum that he wore spikes on the Adelaide Oval pitch in a TV interview, which Patrick Dangerfield called a "load of crap".
The AFL superstar lamented it would be "back to one-word answers and no personality" given the over-the-top punishment, and the spin king agreed.
"Ridiculous for me," Warne said on Fox Cricket.
"$2,000 is just over-officious and shows no common sense, so retract it. Give him the two-grand back."
MORE CRICKET NEWS:
RAUF START FOR DILBAR
Talk about getting thrown in the deep end. Unknown Pakistani Dilbar Hussain - a farmer from his remote village near Faisalabad - played with a real cricket ball for the first time in 2018 and last night was bowling at a smoking-hot A.B. de Villiers.
Hussain, who speaks no English, wears glasses in the field and was dripping with nerves, leaked the most expensive figures on debut in the Big Bash (1-56) after being called in for Haris Rauf.
At the same time Rauf (1-27) was last night troubling Bangladesh in Lahore and he will almost certainly be back to replace Dilbar for Friday night's qualifying final at the MCG. That's good news for injured Star Hilton Cartwright, who thought Dilbar's name was 'Wilbur' when they met pre-game.
The bad news for Cartwright - a brilliant fielder who Maxwell says saves 20 runs per game - is that he will miss the rest of the season after busting his right hand in the nets.
SPIN TO WIN
Dale Steyn says Glenn Maxwell's captaincy is "three steps ahead of anybody else" and the latest trend is you spin to win. In the Stars' past four games they've sent down 49 overs of spin for 16-361 - an economy rate of 7.4 and a strike-rate of 18.4.
They've opted for just 25 overs of pace for 3-246 - a costly economy rate of 9.8 and a strike-rate of 50.
The aggression went up a gear last night with Adam Zampa given the second over and three of the first nine … and it worked, as the 'Kohli Killer' ripped through both Brisbane openers and later picked up Matt Renshaw.
Maxi says countries will spin to win at this year's T20 World Cup, given Australia's large boundaries, and it is working for him in the Big Bash.