January 18: Melbourne Stars v Perth Scorchers at Melbourne
Our XI: Marcus Stoinis, Liam Livingstone, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Nick Larkin, Mitchell Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Fawad Ahmed, Chris Jordan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Seb Gotch
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about a late injury (or other relevant updates)
Captain: Glenn Maxwell
There's always been a synergy between Maxwell and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He's got some special performances there over the years, and it's been no different in this BBL. So far in three matches at this ground in BBL 2019-20, he hasn't been dismissed. The large playing area has also meant he's come on to bowl his offspin in every game. Add to that the fact that Maxwell has been in terrific form this season with the bat, and has picked up crucial wickets at times too, and you've got a ready made all-purpose captain.
Vice-captain: Mitchell Marsh
The Scorchers haven't enjoyed as prolific a run in this tournament as the Stars, but they have had a bona fide star in Mitchell Marsh. The highest run-getter for the team, and he's got his runs at more than 9 per over, Marsh has been the fulcrum of the Scorchers line-up. He hasn't bowled regularly, sending down just 11 overs in 10 games, but even there, he has taken four wickets. If the Scorchers can pull off an upset against the Stars, it's a good bet that Marsh will be at the centre of it.
There is a strong case to make Stoinis the captain or vice-captain, but going by the purely unscientific - but strangely applicable to cricket - principle of 'he's due a failure', he's been demoted instead. Though if you were to make Stoinis your captain, there would be no solid argument against it. Ten times Stoinis has gone to bat in the tournament, and five of those times he's crossed 50. He's averaging an unbelievable 86.16, and not at the cost of quick-scoring either, as a strike rate of 133.93 shows. All this, and he's still not been called on to bowl.
Lamichhane has gone under the radar a bit with Haris Rauf and Adam Zampa being the Stars' bowling heroes, but he has been very effective. He's got 11 wickets so far in nine matches, the second highest for Stars. With neither Rauf nor Zampa available for this game, the spotlight is Lamichhane's to grab.
The leading wicket-taker for the Scorchers, Richardson will be the man for the key strikes up front and at the death. He's got 13 wickets so far in the tournament, and has been pretty reasonable with his economy rate too, at 7.34. He's even contributed with the bat on one occasion with an unbeaten 33 off 14 balls.
One of the Scorchers' more consistent players, Inglis is a good bet to have given his form and his top-order batting position. He's got over 300 runs in the tournament, and he's got the best strike-rate among the Scorchers batsmen, at 159.18. Moreover, he's a wicketkeeper, which always means a greater chance of picking up points in the field.
Another one in the family of leggies who have found T20 success, Fawad has proved tough to get away. His subtle variations have kept batsmen guessing, while he has the guile to outfox them and be a proper wicket-taking option in the middle overs too. The large boundaries at the MCG will only help his cause.
Point to note
These two sides played against each other just two days back, and the Stars swatted aside the Scorchers, bowling them out for a paltry 86 and then chasing down the target in 12 overs. One-sided matches tend not to repeat in T20s, but even if you can expect a better fight from the Scorchers, the Stars' form in the BBL and their record of having won all three games at the MCG so far in this tournament makes it difficult to look past them.