The Adelaide Strikers still have a remote mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the KFC T20 Big Bash League.
Fans, however, would be happy enough if Alex Hales delivered the explosive innings he’s promised since the first match in the series when he belted 49 in 19 balls against the Hobart hurricanes.
In the six matches since Hales hasn’t reproduced that form, managing only three times to go past 16, for two scores of 31.
Hales is the key to the mathematical equation that could yet deliver a finals berth: if the Strikers bat first and Hales lets fly to propel the locals to a mammoth score, then it’s game on in the net run rate battle.
The Strikers must win, win well, and hope the Hurricanes down the Heat in Hobart, but not by too much.
The Melbourne Renegades sit one point below the Strikers on the table, unable to qualify for the Big Finals.
Another key player tonight is speed machine Shaun Tait whose 150km/h-plus bowling has the potential to clean out a side’s batting shed.
The Strikers attack, however, looks to focused on spin with the return of Adam Zampa to the squad named yesterday: Johan Botha, Jono Dean, Alex Hales, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Michael Klinger, Trent Lawford, Tim Ludeman, Nathan Reardon, Michael Neser, Kane Richardson, Shaun Tait, Adam Zampa.
The match is perhaps the last chance locals will get to see the great Muthiah Muralidaran, whose bowling has held up well this series, conceding less than a run-a-ball over 25 overs in seven matches.
As one champ’s career fades, another looks to be on the up with young gun Travis Head showing up in his debut match last Thursday with 17 from nine balls.
Australian Test quick Peter Siddle will make his Renegades – and BBL – debut after a rest following the triumphant Ashes Series.
The match starts at 7.10pm.
A half-century from Luke Wright helped the Melbourne Stars stretch their unbeaten record to seven in Tuesday night’s BBL clash with the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG.
The win came at a cost for the Stars after former Test opener Rob Quiney injured his shoulder while fielding.
Man-of-the-match Wright hit 52 off 36 deliveries for the Stars, who made 5-135 with five balls to spare chasing 132 to win.
The England import’s second half-century of the series lifted his run tally to 262 to be equal top-scorer with the Melbourne Renegades’ opener Aaron Finch.
The Stars were rocked on Tuesday by the announcement Sri Lanka’s board had recalled Lasith Malinga to allow the paceman to work on his fitness ahead of next month’s one-day and T20 series in Bangladesh.
An extremely disappointed Stars’ chief executive Clint Cooper said the title favourites hoped to regain Malinga for the semi-finals on February 4 and 5.
The pre-game withdrawal of Malinga wasn’t the only setback for the Stars. Quiney walked off clutching his right shoulder after making a diving attempt to take a catch.
Quiney courageously came out to bat at No.3 in obvious pain, scoring 13.
Brad Hodge (12) was caught by a diving Ben Dunk at mid-on and Wright’s departure at 4-101 left the game still in the balance.
Marcus Stoinis (10) went cheaply but David Hussey (19 not out) and Peter Handscomb (13 not out) guided the home team safely to victory.
Fiery medium pacer Ben Laughlin took 2-28 and fought a running verbal battle with Hussey.
“It was a little bit tighter than what we wanted,” Hussey said.
Asked about Laughlin, Hussey added: “It’s high stakes. Everyone around the league knows Benny loves a chat.”
The Hurricanes made 9-131 after being asked to bat first.
John Hastings led the way with 2-15 off four overs while Scott Boland and Marcus Stoinis also claimed two wickets each. Spinner David Hussey (1-19 off four overs) dismissed Tim Paine with the first ball of the match.
Travis Birt (31) and Ben Dunk (30) shared a 43-run partnership before falling in consecutive balls to Stoinis.
Dunk cracked a cut shot to backward point where Luke Wright fumbled a sharp chance and regathered it off his chest in spectacular style.
Aiden Blizzard finished 28 not out.
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