Cricket: Stars to feel the Heat at the MCG on Sunday

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CRICKET fan Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) has spotted a slice of value from Sunday morning's Big Bash action in Australia. 

Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat | Sunday 27th November 2019, 08:15 | BT Sport

It’s getting to crunch time in this year’s Big Bash, with teams only having a handful of games remaining until the play-offs, and for many it is now simply a case of ‘must win’ every time they leave the pavilion.

Melbourne Stars have had somewhat of a revival in the past week, winning their last two games after losing three on the bounce, and that run has shot them up the table into fifth, one place outside the play-off spots. A win here would see the Stars into third.

The visitors must simply win or they will be leaving themselves a mammoth task to qualify for the semi-finals. The Heat are second bottom in the standings with seven points and were fortunate last week against Sydney Thunder, who were on the verge of winning the game before a failed floodlight led to an abandonment and a point apiece.

Stars back at perfect time for Melbourne

The Stars began this year’s BBL in terrible fashion, losing their opening two games, perhaps struggling to adjust to life without two players who contributed so much last season in the shape of Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen.

They did revive their efforts, winning three in a row before another slump as previously mentioned. The Stars however have hit a rich vein of form and that is heavily because they now have the availability of their Australian internationals, all of whom were playing in the recent ODIs against India.

In Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell, the Stars have two of the best all-rounders in the competition, with Stoinis scoring over 220 runs in his last four innings. In addition, batsman Peter Handscomb has also been a boost to the home side since his return from the international scene.

Heat heavily reliant on big boys

It’s been a mixed bag so far for the Heat and the games are quickly running out if they are to qualify for the semi-finals, they simply must deliver here.

It is no secret that the Heat are heavily dependant on a few key players. Quite simply, if they perform the Heat should win, if not then their chances are slim and often end in defeat.

Chris Lynn and Brendom McCullum at the top of the order are crucial, if they can get the Heat off to a good start then they instantly increase their chances of victory, so much so that in two of three games that have yielded wins, they both smashed at least 50.

The Heat will also be relying on displays, particularly with the ball from Ben Cutting and spinner Mujeeb Rahman. Take that four out of the team and a lot is left to be desired, the pressure is going to be on these four to get the Heat home.

Stars could be vulnerable favourites

The Stars are at best price 13/18 with Boylesports for a fourth successive victory and clearly have the better squad, playing with more confidence.

However, one stat that does stand out is the Heat’s perfect record against their opponents. The Heat have beaten the Stars on the last five occasions in the Big Bash, including success on all three occasions when travelling to the MCG, which is certainly worth noting.

It is also worth considering that both McCullum and Lynn have very good records at the MCG. On the visit last year, the pair put on 101 for the first wicket, as the Heat easily chased down a target of 142.

Take a chance on the Heat

I think all things considered it is worth siding for the visitors, who are an attractive looking 11/8 with Coral. Sure, the Stars are possibly the most in-form team of the competition at the minute, especially with the return of the Australia internationals.

But if McCullum and Lynn can get going, they can take the game away from the Stars. The pair thrive under pressure and big situations and enjoyed great success at the MCG last year, I think it’s worth chancing they’ll do it again.

Best Bets

Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat – Brisbane Heat to win (11/8 Coral)

Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat – Chris Lynn to be Top Batsman (9/2 Sky Bet)

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