If there were doubts that Andre Russell was going to make some sort of impact in his five-match spell at the Stars, they were quickly put to bed in his second game for the Melbourne outfit, against the Thunder.
Chasing a modest total of just 152, the Stars were stuttering at one stage. Glenn Maxwell got them back into the contest with 40 off 25 but when he got out, there was still a job to do.
A job that Russell did very well.
Batting at five, he came in and smashed 42 off 21 to turn a tight chase into a walk in the park.
He was named man-of-the-match.
23 off 13 from Hilton Cartwright was a good contribution, as well.
Earlier on in the day, Qais Ahmad bowled beautifully for his 2-17 off four overs and Brody Crouch was also good with 2-26. Adam Zampa was unusually expensive: 29-0 off three.
The Stars are now third with two wins from three games and a total of seven points.
Russell, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Qais Ahmed have really added the so-called X-Factor to proceedings the last couple of games because they were pretty flat in that first game defeat to the Sixers.
The little-known Brody Crouch has been good so far, taking wickets in all three games he’s played and a total of five across them.
He’s been keeping the likes of Sam Rainbird out of the team.
Russell coming in meant Peter Nevill going out and they’re unlikely to make any changes after two wins in a row.
Player to Watch: Andre Russell
Probably the most obvious place to start but with good reason.
There’s an argument to say that he’s the best T20 player ever.
Yes, Windies team-mate Chris Gayle has been king of the runs, Rashid Khan was voted the best T20 player of the decade (2010-19) and Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are among the easiest on the eye when it comes to piling on the runs.
But no player has ever been able to affect a T20 game in all three disciplines like Russell.
His two unbeaten explosive innings of 17 and 42 are a reminder of what he can do with the bat.
But he hasn’t been so good with the ball. He’s gone for 0/40 and 0/38, a suggestion that he’s maybe not fully fit.
It’s a big-looking 9.5 he top scores with the bat and a shorter 7.5 he’s man of the match for a second game running. Prices with Betway.
The MCG is a bit of a strange ground. It’s a good wicket but the boundaries are so big that hitting sixes is easier said than done. You need to really middle it for it to clear the rope.
On the other hand, the outfield is so huge that there are twos and threes everywhere you look.
160 is about par here. Chasing 170 or more won’t be so easy and there’s no obvious toss bias, so we’ll have to see what the winning skipper (of the toss) decides to do.
Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers Head-to-Head
These are two of the big rivals in the BBL. They’ve played each other 17 times and it’s the Sixers who are 10-7 up.
They’ve already played this season, the Sixers posting 213 and the Stars being bowled out for just 61. But remember the Stars were missing a lot of players that day.
Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers Toss Prediction
Time to look at the Stars v Sixers toss winner statistics. The Sixers are considerably ahead on this count, too. It’s 11-7 in their favour. The Stars actually won the toss the other day in that big loss, choosing to field. So it will be interesting to see what happens if Maxwell wins it again.
But the smart money is on the Sixers winning it anyway.