Sports News

Big Bash League: Sydney Sixers to face Melbourne Stars in final threatened by rain

Sydney Sixers are looking to win the Big Bash for the first time since 2011-12, Melbourne Stars have never won the competition

Sydney Sixers are due to face Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League final at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

However, heavy rain is forecast all day in Sydney, casting doubt on whether the Twenty20 match, set to start at 08:15 GMT (19:15 local time), will go ahead.

A minimum of five overs per side need to be played to constitute a full game and there is no reserve day.

If the final is washed out, the Sixers will be crowned champions after beating the Stars in the qualifier round.

The Sixers won by 43 runs to claim the right to host the final before the Stars beat Sydney Thunder by 28 runs in Thursday’s challenger round to set up a rematch.

It would be the Sixers’ first title since winning the inaugural competition in 2011-12, while the Stars have never won the Big Bash.

Key players

James Vince will be the only English player involved in the final

Sixers opener James Vince is the only England international due to feature in the final and has scored 321 runs at an average of 24.69, with one half-century, in the tournament so far.

Tom Curran has impressed for the Sixers by taking 22 wickets, joint second most in the tournament with Sydney Thunder all-rounder Chris Morris, but will miss the final because of his involvement in England’s one-day international series in South Africa.

Wicketkeeper Josh Philippe, who opens the batting with Vince, is the Sixers’ top runscorer in the tournament with 435, while their squad also boasts Australia batsman Steve Smith, off-spinner Nathan Lyon and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood.

Stars opener Marcus Stoinis has scored the most runs in the competition (695), including an unbeaten 147, the highest individual score in BBL history, in victory over the Sixers in January.

Fellow Australia all-rounder and Stars captain Glenn Maxwell has been similarly vital, while Nick Larkin, who represented Ireland in two List A games in 2014, hit 83 not out to guide his side into the final.

Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf has taken 20 wickets at 11.55 in just nine matches for the Stars, including a hat-trick against the Thunder, while Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa has claimed 18 wickets at 16.66.

Tale of the tournament

Stars opener Marcus Stoinis is the top run-scorer this year with 695 runs

The Stars topped the points table with 10 wins from 14 group games, with the Sixers a point behind in second, while defending champions Melbourne Renegades finished bottom.

Stoinis has been a major factor in the Stars’ success, averaging 57.91 and hitting one hundred and six 50s.

He has also smashed 27 sixes, the joint most in the tournament alongside England batsman Liam Livingstone, who had an impressive debut BBL season at Perth Scorchers with 425 runs at 30.35.

Sydney Thunder opener Alex Hales, who is hoping to force his way back into England white-ball reckoning after being dropped from the World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons, scored the second most runs after Stoinis, with 576 at 38.40, including six 50s.

England’s Tom Banton lit up the early stages of the tournament, with three half-centuries in seven matches for Brisbane Heat, including a 16-ball 50 in which he hit five sixes in an over. He has re-signed for the Heat for next year.

Thunder left-arm seamer Daniel Sams is the top wicket-taker with 30 in 17 matches, while Chris Jordan impressed with 15 wickets for the Scorchers before joining up with Curran and Banton in South Africa.

While still one of the most popular domestic sport leagues in Australia, the TV audience for the Big Bash fell