Stoinis has Big Bash rivals seeing Stars
BRACE yourself for an all-Melbourne Big Bash League final.
It's a scenario former Australian all-rounder Brendon Julian believes is a strong possibility, with the cross-town rivals having the edge in their respective semi-finals.
Julian thinks the Renegades can triumph at home tomorrow against the visiting Sydney Sixers, who are coming off an implosion against the Stars in their final preliminary round match, and believes the Marcus Stoinis-led Stars can upstage the table-topping Hurricanes in Hobart tonight.
"I think the Stars can cause an upset," the Fox Cricket commentator said.
"They are the in-form team. Their national players are back. They are at full strength.
"They've never won a final (they lost the 2015-16 title decider to the Sydney Thunder), but this is going to be their best opportunity."
Skipper Glenn Maxwell was the hero in the final-round win over the Sixers, which sealed the Stars' spot in the final four, hitting a swashbuckling 82 from 43 balls, including six sixes.
But Stoinis, the newly crowned Australian one-day player of the year, remains the key to the Stars' cause, batting at the top of the order and being a proven wicket-taker with the ball. He has scored 476 runs this campaign at an average of 59 and a strike rate of 136, and taken 14 wickets.
"Stoinis, I've really loved," Julian said of the all-rounder.
"He's matured as a cricketer. He's opening the batting in T20 cricket, he's taken that responsibility.
"He paces an innings. He's done that in Twenty20 cricket, done that in 50-over cricket."
Julian expects the 29-year-old to feature in both the ODI World Cup and the Ashes in England later this year.
"I put him in my Ashes squad," he said.
"He's in my XI, even though he's been denied red-ball cricket. I think you can pick him on the back of one-day form.
"Australia is desperate for an all-rounder at six. I think (Marnus) Labuschagne would miss out.
"In England you need an all-rounder who bats six and bowls seam - you don't need spin.
"And I expect a big World Cup from him.
"He's a big-game player. He enjoys the occasion."
Only two batsmen have scored more runs than Stoinis during BBL|08 - Hurricanes pair Matthew Wade (590) and D'Arcy Short (602), who have compiled three of the top six opening partnerships in the competition.
Julian said dismissing both early would put immense pressure on the rest of the Hobart line-up.
"The rest of the team hasn't really had a bat. They've never really been put under a lot of pressure," he said.
"They are a really good side. They play well at home. They chase well.
"But if they lose early wickets, they could be in trouble."
Julian said spinners Sandeep Lamichhane (11 wickets in six games) and Adam Zampa were two more aces in the Stars' pack on a turning Blundstone Arena wicket.
"Sandeep is back from his Twenty20 commitments overseas (in the Bangladesh T20 league and with Nepal), and Zampa is a very, very good leg spinner," he said.
"They (the Stars) hold all the ingredients."
The Aaron Finch-captained Renegades have the chance to make their first-ever final - and they may have the Stars to thank.
Dismissed for a record-low 74 in that final home-and-away clash, the Sixers gifted the Renegades second place on the ladder on run rate - and hosting duties tomorrow night at Marvel Stadium.
"The Sixers stuffed that up. They should've gotten 107 (to keep their run rate above the Renegades). They should've had a home final," Julian said.
"They've been scratchy. They had eight days off and looked really, really ordinary at the MCG.
"Going to Marvel Stadium, they could be in trouble. It's probably the worst pitch in the country for Twenty20 cricket.
"But the Renegades will be used to it."
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