The penultimate game of the BBL09 is the dubbed “The Challenger” which the Melbourne Stars host the Sydney Thunder at the MCG in a do-or-die clash on Thursday evening. Match 60 of the tournament is scheduled to get underway at 1940 AEDT. The winner to face the Sydney Sixers in the BBL09 Final at the SCG on Saturday.

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Draftstars have posted a $20,000 contest for a $15 entry, as well as a $1,500 Mini and even a $200 Single Entry contest for a $10 buy-in. Moneyball are offering a $5,000 contest for a $15 entry as well as a $500 guarantee on their $2 contest.

There will be no issues with the weather in Melbourne come game time with pleasant conditions throughout Thursday and into the evening. The curators have had plenty of time to prepare the wicket since the Stars defeated the Sixers last Friday night. As mentioned in the preview to “The Qualifier”, the surface at the G is hard and dry but is difficult to score runs due to the “two pace” nature of the surface. 17 wickets were taken in the Stars “choke” in another finals loss with the two teams combining for 241 runs between them. I am not expecting a complete turnaround in the characteristics of the ground where teams are comfortable defending 150.

The Melbourne Stars have retained the same 13 man squad from their defeat to the Sixers. The bowling attack led by Adam Zampa in “The Qualifier” last Friday night, pulled back the Sixers innings momentum after being 2/94 in the 12th over. The Stars took 5 for 48 in the remaining 8 overs with the main bowlers all finishing with economy strike rate bonuses. However the contest was all over when the Stars found themselves 3 for 26 in the 5th over of the powerplay. It was a fantasy fill-up for the Sixers attack with all 5 bowlers taking wickets and all reaching economy rate bonuses as well.

The Sydney Thunder have made 1 change to the squad that pulled off the massive win over the Strikers in Adelaide. Liam Bowe has made way for Matthew Gilkes. Gilkes could be a surprise inclusion into the XI so make sure you keep an eye out for teams at the Bat Flip. The Thunder’s confidence will be sky high after pulling off another remarkable win on the road. The Strikers must be said, threw that game away when they were 3/115 in the 15th over chasing 152. Whilst the Thunder still rely on Daniel Sams and Chris Morris to the bulk of the bowling, Jono Cook can now be included as a weapon bowler. I won’t read too much in the Thunder’s innings with the bat in Adelaide but the middle to late order power hitting was lacking and could be exposed by the Stars.



The Stars remarkably have lost the last 4 games in a row and of those keys to their defeats is the prize wicket of Marcus Stoinis. In his last three innings, Stoinis lost his wicket when on 5, 17 and 5 which the Stars failed to chase down targets. But Stoinis is not alone in the batting woes of the Stars. Only Peter Handscomb has scored over 28 runs in the past three games (65no against the Strikers) and the Stars have lost 28 wickets over these three games. If you believe that the Stars batting order outside of Stoinis and Maxwell are gettable, then Thunder bowlers in fantasy sides are an option. On the flipside, the form of Adam Zampa at the MCG is irresistible to ignore. Two bags of 3 wickets in his past two games at the G is guaranteed to give Zampa the Lion’s share of ownership on Thursday night. 


The Thunder with three wins on the trot outside their city’s rival have hit form at the right time. Alex Hales has been the standout in the batting order, providing quick runs yet proving hard to remove at the crease. Although you can make a case now that the Thunder are becoming reliant on Hales' contribution. Hales has top scored in the last 5 games of the Thunder and the early wicket of Hales will be a key target for the Stars. Another key to the Thunder’s success is the quality of their 4th and 5th bowling options. Currently bowlers such as Brendan Doggett, Chris Tremain and to a lesser extent Arjun Nair are struggling under the pressure of “Powerplay” and “death” bowling. You only had to look at Tremain’s 4 wides in one over effort in Adelaide. If the Thunder were to pinch this, these three need to breakthrough or at least keep their nerve under pressure.


Whilst it would be amusing seeing the Stars doing a “Sammy Stosur” the likes of Stoinis, Zampa, Maxwell and Rauf will be too strong for the Thunder. The Bookies have the Stars has slight favourites and do represent a bit of value for a team that dominated the season.


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Love It - Glenn Maxwell ($20,000 Draftstars)

Not mucking around with cute sides for the final, you want the key players with paths to victory. Although I prefer Maxwell in the first innings than chasing, Maxwell is simply too good to ignore in these big games. Bowling in the powerplay can lead to wickets and his batting has the potential for massive fantasy scores. Maxwell was selected for international duty once again this week which will boost the confidence in this match. 


Don’t Love It - Callum Ferguson ($15,700 Draftstars)

I actually do not mind Ferguson in this style of final but I still don’t like the salary posted by Draftstars. I could get the Stars number 3 in Nick Larkin at under $10,000 which then I can afford my options elsewhere. Ferguson’s fantasy output has improved (51 and 21 fantasy points) in the last two games, but the MCG is a difficult ground to score quickly on. We may get a 30+ score but likely it will be at a run a ball. 


Who Knows - Usman Khawaja ($15,800 Draftstars)

Khawaja has had to play second fiddle to Alex Hales pretty much all of through the campaign with low fantasy scores throughout the tournament. What we haven’t seen is what happens when Hales fails with the bat. If this scenario was to occur we may see Khawaja go big without Hales in the way. We just need Usman to stay at the crease for at least 10 overs.  A big who knows play but could be a profitable one.




Love It - Adam Zampa ($16,700 Draftstars)

I wrote about Zampa as my “Love It” play in “The Qualifier” and nothing will change here. 137 fantasy points in the last match and I cannot see how the Thunder get hold of Zampa. Only Alex Hales is a threat but Zampa is too good for them here at the MCG. Wildly popular play coming up at a price point which is more than affordable.


Don’t Love It - Brendan Doggett ($9,500 Draftstars)

I can not recommend playing Brendan Doggett. He might take a catch (but that is debatable) but that’s about it. His last 4 fantasy scores are -1, 8, 0 and -1. I do not think I need to write anymore. 


Who Knows - Jono Cook ($15,500 Draftstars)

After two strong finals performances, Cook has now become relevant after being an unpopular pricey play throughout the tournament. At a discount to the likes of Sams, Morris and Zampa, Cook should enjoy bowing at the G. But who knows how he goes against the hitting power of Maxwell, Stoinis and to some extent Maddinson.




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