The new Big Bash League season gets under way on Wednesday when Sydney Thunder take on Melbourne Stars in Canberra.
Thunder are the 4/6 favourites to get off to the perfect start but Stars’ chances should not be dismissed and they may well represent decent value at 6/5 to come out on top at the Manuka Oval.
In total, eight franchises will compete in the round-robin format to begin with, with each team playing each other twice before the play-offs start from January 27, when those finishing in the top five in the regular season table will aim to battle through to the final.
Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Stars Betting Tips
Thunder are captained by Jason Sangha and, like many of the franchises, will want to make a fast start before losing players later in the competition due to international call-ups.
Alex Hales, Faz Farooqi and Rilee Rossouw are all expected to feature in the opener against Stars but leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is unlikely to be involved as he continues to struggle with a back injury.
The Stars’ biggest injury absence is all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who is recovering from the broken leg he suffered last month. The Australia international was Melbourne Stars’ top runscorer in the BBL last season with 468 at an average of 42.54 but reports suggest he is unlikely to be back fit until mid-February at the earliest, meaning he’s struggling to be fit for any of this year’s BBL with the final scheduled for February 4.
Trent Boult is available until he heads out to take part in the International League T20, which starts on January 13 in the UAE, and he is set to form an impressive bowling attack along with Nathan Coulter-Nile and Luke Wood, while Stars are captained by wrist spinner Adam Zampa.
Melbourne Stars to win – 6/5
Melbourne Stars’ bowling group is one to be feared and, if they click in Canberra and restrict Hales and co, they can edge what is expected to be an exciting opener to the tournament.
The Stars have also won six of the last seven games against the Thunder and even though no Maxwell is a blow, they have plenty of experience and power with Stoinis, Joe Clarke, Hilton Cartwright and Joe Burns.
Marcus Stoinis – Melbourne Stars Top Run Scorer – 11/4
The 33-year-old Stoinis, who ended the season fourth on Stars’ top-scorer list last term even though he played just eight games, has a T20 batting average of 30.85 and he’s been a key man for Stars in this competition before.
He made a BBL record 705 runs in 17 games when the Stars last reached the final in 2019-20 and looks well capable of starting the new season with a big score.
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