Yesterday it was the Thunder; one of the lowest profile teams in BBL 2016 who took an onslaught against the table-toppers Adelaide Strikers and stepped into the finals with a thumping victory. Today it was the Melbourne Stars who may not have the same profile yet had to work hard for their way into the finals. After facing defeats in four consecutive semifinals all previous versions, the Stars finally are in their first finals.
This will be the first final for both Stars and Thunder, but whoever wins the cup, the cup will be handed over to a member of the same family as Michael Hussey will captain the Thunder for the final time and his brother David Hussey will be leading the Stars at the MCG. Stars shined today at MCG.
Stars did well, restricting Scorchers to just 139. Worrall did a fantastic job up front for the Stars. His swing and the stiff line did not let Scorchers open up their arms in the powerplay and death overs against the Stars. Spinners too played a handy role for the Stars. Zampa and Beer restricted the Scorchers in the middle period from the Stars.
The chase for the Stars would not have been this easy if there was no Pietersen in the team. The tall Englishman played a brilliant and brisk one for the Stars. Pietersen prepared himself well for the game as he was seen batting in the ground before the game.
Stars had a relatively slow start with Stoinis and Wright, picking up eight runs from the first three overs. Immediately after that, Wright fell, hitting one to covers. Stars might have faced some issues, but Pietersen went in and took control immediately from the Stars. Pietersen and Stoinis then lashed back at the Scorchers and Behrendorff and Tye were their victims. Both Pietersen and Stoines scored 3 boundaries each in the next two overs and build the momentum for the Stars.
Amazingly, the Stars after picking six fours in two overs went boundary-less for the next six overs. But Pietersen and Stoinis did not let this hurt their cause. They kept on hitting singles and doubles for the Stars in the huge MCG infield. Stoinis finally was trapped by Hogg’s leg spin and was adjourned leg before wicket. Handscomb then joins Pietersen for the Stars. Stars did had a strong plan.
Stars were relaxed as Pietersen was still playing and as Handscomb joined Pietersen in the middle for the Stars, Pietersen shifted gears. Stars saw an exhibition of fanciness from Pietersen. He lofted the ball over the short fine leg thanks to a pedal shot then went down the track and hit the ball straight. Pietersen took the charge against Paris, but then at 62, Paris took him down. Stars were in a comfortable position when Pietersen walked out after missing a reverse sweep shot.
Stars captain David Hussey walked in and hit the victory mark with Handscomb with eleven balls to spare. Right from the start the Stars had a plan and they executed it perfectly. Stars members were dedicated to the cause. Quiney saved a certain boundary first up from Harris and then Worrall struck as Harris edged him high and Quiney completed the catch for the Stars. Carberry looked in good form at number three and struck a neat cover drive against Hilfenhaus, but the Worrall had him too. Stars picked up key wickets thanks to some disciplined bowling by Worrall.
Klinger and Scorchers captain, however, pulled back the Stars attack with a decent partnership. The two kept on rotating the strike and kept the runs coming. Stars knew that such middle overs often end up with huge ones so their bowlers were trying to do their best to break the partnership. Voges took Stars Gulbis for three fours in his solo over. Stars still did not hit the panic button. Voges then hit Zampa and Stoinis for a couple of boundaries and then Klinger showed his muscles against Hilfenhaus hitting him straight over his head for a big six.
The dream for a late acceleration never became a reality as the Stars finally broke the gate when Zampa caught Kingler edging him straight to Stoinis at the end of the 16th over. Stoinis then got rid of Willey in the next over. Agar was cleaned up by Hilfenhaus and then Stars got the big one. Voges hit one straight to Beer at mid-on and Scorchers became 5 down for 116 runs.
Stars pulled out a tight ending thanks to Hilfenhaus and Warroll who produced some excellent death over spell. Stars had the confidence behind them after the first round. Then Pietersen sealed their fate to play the debut final at the MCG. The Stars deserved that for sure.
Melbourne Stars 3 for 140
(Pietersen 62, Stoinis 44)
beat Perth Scorchers 7 for 139
(Voges 52, Klinger 44, Worrall 3-25) by seven wickets