Melbourne Stars’ playoffs hopes suffered a setback on Saturday as they were beaten by the resurgent Adelaide Strikers.
With just two more matches the go, the 23-run defeat stung the Stars hard as they sit just outside the playoff spots, with a six-point gap between themselves and the fifth-placed Hobart Hurricanes.
Set a 156-run target, the Stars, who seemed strong on paper, couldn’t handle the raw pace of Adelaide pacer Henry Thornton, losing early wickets and reeling at 37 for 4. Hilton Cartwright showed resistance with a decent 49 and so did Joe Burns (25) but the tumbling of wickets resumed after an interval and in the end the defeat was theirs.
The defeat dented their hopes but did not end it. However, losing to Brisbane in this one will be curtains.
The equation for Brisbane Heat will be no different in this game. Win and stay in the hunt for the fifth spot. Lose and see your slim playoff hopes vanish.
Fortunately for the Heat, they’ve received a timely boost as Mitchell Swepson and Michael Neser have been released from Australia’s Ashes squad and are in contention to play this fixture.
Further good news is that all the dozen players that were hit by Covid earlier this month have now recovered and are available for selection.
Coincidentally, the Heat’s last game was also against the Strikers and was also a defeat in an unsuccessful chase.