Who can stop the Melbourne Stars?
That’s the big question in the BBL after they made short work of the Adelaide Strikers in Thursday night’s clash at the MCG, cantering to victory by eight wickets.
Choosing to bat first on a pitch offering some assistance to the pace bowlers, the Strikers were never in the hunt for a big total and were restricted to 9-90.
It’s the third-lowest innings tally in BBL history.
James Faulkner (3-9 off four overs) and Sri Lanka import Lasith Malinga (2-8 off four) were in dazzling form for the Stars, who then coasted to their fifth consecutive win with a score of 2-91 off just 7.3 overs in reply.
Skipper Cameron White’s side are now two games clear on top of the table.
The Stars went for a quick kill with the bat, racing to 62 off the first five overs.
Openers Luke Wright (49 off 20 balls) and White (13) fell in consecutive deliveries in the sixth over and Shaun Tait was bouncing Glenn Maxwell at speeds of over 152km/h.
Tait had already struck a batsman in the head for the second time in successive matches, crashing a bouncer into Wright’s helmet in the third over of the Stars’ innings.
However Maxwell hit an unbeaten 25 off 10 balls as the Stars delighted their home crowd of 24,344 with an easy win, with Tait claiming 0-33 off three overs.
Earlier, opener Michael Klinger top-scored with 42 for the fourth-placed Strikers.
Jackson Bird removed Alex Hales caught at slip for five and Faulkner struck twice in the sixth over, dismissing Tim Ludeman (six) and Phil Hughes (duck) in consecutive deliveries.
Malinga produced an inswinging yorker to bowl Nathan Reardon for one at 4-41 before tailender Kane Richardson provided some resistance with 21 at No.8.
Man-of-the-match Faulkner said the Stars were fearing no one.
“We performed really well as a team tonight and we have done for the whole competition,” Faulkner said.
“I suppose that’s why we’re five-nil.
“We bowled really well. To chase 90 … in the amount of overs we did was exceptional and I think we’re in good shape for the following games.”
Strikers’ coach Darren Berry said the Stars were clearly the competition’s yardsticks.
“I’m a little bit gobsmacked,” Berry said.
But he said he hadn’t lost faith in his side who have two wins and two losses plus a washout from five games.
“We’ve been humiliated tonight, absolutely smacked to the bottom of the barrel,” Berry said.
“We’ve had a shocking night. Rarely have I walked from the field and felt humiliated.
“We’ve got three matches remaining.
“We win two, we’ll be in the finals and I think our team’s good enough to play in the finals.”
The Strikers face Perth Scorchers at the WACA on January 16 while the Stars play the Heat at the Gabba on Saturday.
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