Comment below what you think the total aggregate score in this game will be for your chance to win the final author payout in SPORTS tokens from this post.
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So it all comes down to this, the final match of the competition between the Sydney Sixers and the Melbourne Stars. Ultimately, of course, these are the 2 teams that finished 1st and 2nd in the league part of the competition meaning the playoffs have failed to deliver any real surprises this year.
The Sixers have been one of the most consistent sides in the tournament and are fully deserving of their place in the final. The strength and togetherness of their squad is underlined by the fact that they've had to make do without key players such as Stephen O'Keeffe, Sean Abbott and Tom Curran for periods of the season and yet they've still managed to find players who can win them games. Despite the absence of those big names they have also been able to call upon the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and perhaps most significantly Steve Smith following the end of the international summer to bolster their ranks. With many other Australian Test stars including David Warner, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc choosing to sit out the tournament it is perhaps testament once again to the fact that the Sixers have a good thing going in the dressing room with a genuine belief that they can bring home the trophy this year that those star names were happy to return.
The Stars powered through the middle portion of the season leaving everyone in their wake but going into yesterday's match against the Thunder they had lost 4 on the bounce. A great partnership between Stoinis and Larkin pushed them to a fantastic score which The Thunder were never likely to chase but the Sydney team will look back at the missed opportunity to dismiss Stoinis early on and have The Stars 2 down inside 4 overs. The game would undoubtedly have been very different if Lenton had taken that dolly of a catch.
While we know that The Stars are back to somewhere near their best after yesterday's match, we can be a little less certain of the form of The Sixers simply because it feels like such a long time since they've had to play. I guess there are 2 schools of thought as to the effect that that will have on their chances in this match. Firstly, they are well-rested and will have spent the time preparing for a home match in conditions they know well. However, T20 is very much about momentum and form on the day and it might be difficult for the Sixers batsmen to rediscover their striking ability on the big stage given the length of time between fixtures.
I wouldn't expect the pitch to have a huge amount of pace in it and the big square boundaries will once again mean that the bowlers on both sides will likely bang it in short and make the batsmen hit square. Nerves again could play a major factor and the Stars, in particular, will know only too well that they have never won this tournament despite appearing in 2 previous finals and 5 semi-finals in the 8 years prior to this. They well and truly should have won last year's final before suffering a monumental collapse which they will be keen to banish from their collective memories with a win in this game.
p.s. you may wish to check the weather forecast for Sydney before making your guess...
Entries for this competition close at 8:00am GMT on Saturday, 8th February