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Strikers, Stars depleted for crunch match at MCG

Cricket

Adelaide Strikers will face the Melbourne Stars at the MCG tonight without allrounder Travis Head and towering paceman Billy Stanlake, both named in Australia's one-day international squad for the series against Pakistan.

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They’ll also be doing without BBL recruit Chris Jordan, after the England quick suffered a season-ending left hamstring strain during Adelaide’s win over the Hobart Hurricanes on Friday.

He will continue to travel with the squad for ongoing treatment but won’t play again, with the focus on getting him fit for England’s Twenty20 series against India later this month.

Jordan, the second-best wicket-taker in the BBL this season, is the latest international recruit to be struck by injury.

The Melbourne Renegades were dealt a huge blow when West Indian allrounder Dwayne Bravo was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Compatriot Andre Russell suffered the same fate while playing for the Sydney Thunder, while Brisbane Heat legspinner and fellow West Indian Samuel Badree will be sidelined for the next two weeks.

New Zealand legspinner Ish Sodhi has been named as Jordan’s international replacement.

The injury comes at a bad time for the Strikers, who will face the Melbourne Stars at the MCG without allrounder Head and paceman Stanlake, who have each been named in Australia’s one-day international squad for the series against Pakistan.

Stanlake could be Australia’s biggest bolter in more ways than one: at 204cm, he is set to become the tallest player to represent Australia if he replaces a rested Josh Hazlewood on Friday at the Gabba.

However, his height wasn’t the biggest shock when selectors read his name out as part of the 14-man squad for the five-match ODI series.

The 22-year-old quick has played just two first-class matches and four one-day games for Queensland, making him one of the most-inexperienced call-ups in Australian history.

Despite not played in the Sheffield Shield since December 2015 – when back injuries struck him down – his Queensland teammate Usman Khawaja said he wasn’t surprised when he heard Stanlake was in the squad.

“His name was mentioned last year before he got injured – he’s just that kind of bowler,” Khawaja said.

“He’s a tall bloke, bowls fast, hits the bat hard and he’s very ugly to face.

“The selectors think he’s ready and I’m sure that he is and, if he gets a chance, he’ll do really well.”

Stanlake won his way into the squad off the back of an impressive Big Bash League campaign for Adelaide, with six wickets in his past three matches.

He also has seven Shield and seven one-day domestic wickets to his name and, while Khawaja has played in just two of those matches alongside him, he’s seen enough in the nets.

“He’s very tall and very fast, and that’s two commodities you don’t get together a lot of times,” he said.

“Either you bowl fast and you’re not as tall, or you’re tall and you’re not as fast, but he can do both which is quite impressive.”

Stanlake on Sunday revealed he missed the call from interim chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns when he was announced in the team, and was left shocked when he called him back.

However, he believes he has plenty to offer against a Pakistan team aiming to bounce back from the 3-0 drubbing they copped in the Test series.

“I think my height and bounce makes me a little bit of an x-factor,” he said.

“I’m probably a bit of an unknown to the Pakistan side; they wouldn’t have seen me at all. That’s a bit of an upside as well.”

Meanwhile, the Stars will be missing three key players of their own, with Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and James Faulkner also on ODI duty.

But batsman Tim Ludeman, who has been added to the Strikers’ 13-man squad alongside Wes Agar, says the Stars still have plenty of weapons at their disposal.

“Kevin Pietersen’s been in a bit of touch,” he said yesterday.

“If we can try and get him out cheaply that’ll go a fair way towards winning.

“Every game’s massive from now on in. We want to keep ourselves up there and hopefully play in the finals so we need to keep winning.”

Peter Handscomb is set to return for the Stars after his hugely successful Test series debut against Pakistan, with Liam Bowe and Cameron Gannon also joining their 13-man squad.

Last night, 40-year-old former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin scored 31 off 23 balls to guide the Sydney Sixers to a six-wicket win with three balls to spare, as they chased down the Melbourne Renegades’ score of 6-170 at the SCG.

The result lifted the Sixers to second on the BBL ladder and kept the Renagades in mid-table.

With the Sixers needing nine off the final over bowled by James Pattinson, Haddin missed the first ball, but slashed the second to the boundary and pulled two off the next ball.

Pattinson then bowled a front-foot no ball and Haddin got the two required off the free hit despite the ball being caught at long-on.

Axed Australian one-day batsman Aaron Finch laid the foundations for the Renegades’ innings with an uncharacteristically subdued half-century.

The burly opener scored 57 off 44 balls after opting to bat first having won the toss.

Renowned for his powerful hitting and boundary-laden innings, Finch hit just three fours and a six.

“He hasn’t had one of his traditional innings where he’s gone quite hard and hit a lot of boundaries,” noted Australian captain Steve Smith on the Network Ten commentary.

“He’s used the big side of the ground quite well and worked a lot of twos.”

It was a busy night for Finch, who spent eight balls of the Sixers innings as a wicketkeeper after Peter Nevill spent a few minutes off the ground after being hit on the head by an outfield throw.

Openers Daniel Hughes (41 off 29) and Michael Lumb, (31 off 22) got the hosts’ chase off to a speedy start with a 72-run stand off 7.4 overs.

Nic Maddinson (26 off 17 ) kept the scoreboard rolling until throwing his wicket away with an ill-judged dash down the pitch to be stumped by Nevill.

Captain Moises Henriques (30 off 20) followed the the trend of Sixers cameos before falling to a fine running outfield catch by Callum Ferguson.

Drizzle during the Sixers innings enabled the ball to slide on to the bat a bit quicker and didn’t help the Renegades, for whom imports Sunol Narine and Thisara Perera each picked up two wickets.

Left-arm fast-medium bowler Ben Dwarshuis took 3-35 for the Sixers.

“Tournament play is about peaking at the right time and it looks like we might be doing that,” Haddin said, conceding it was hard to stand up in the drizzle in the final stages.

“I felt a bit like Bambi, to be honest,” Haddin said.

“Just trying to get your footing to get a stable base to hit was quite hard, but if it was hard for us, it was definitely going to be hard for the bowlers.”

Finch said Thursday’s home clash against the Hobart Hurricanes was a must-win match for his side and attributed his low boundary count to struggling with his timing, refusing to use the adverse weather conditions as an excuse for his side.

“I was really happy with 170 to be honest, I thought the way the wicket was slowing up, it should have been enough,” Finch said.

“A lot of rain came down, so that wasn’t ideal but there’ definitely no excuses for it.

“We had a bad powerplay with the ball and let them off the hook there.”

-AAP

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