Sixers sets sights on Stars batsmen
JOSH Hazlewood is keen to expose Melbourne Stars' reliance on their two gun batsmen, suggesting Sydney Sixers will bat a lot deeper in Friday night's BBL qualifying final.
Sixers spearhead Hazlewood is confident that dismissing Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis cheaply at the MCG will go a long way to securing a home final.
"There's probably a lot of T20 teams like that and that's where we are a bit different," Hazlewood said on Thuirsday.
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"Our batting line-up, right down to six or seven, everyone has won a game here or there at different stages. We don't tend to rely on one or two people. That's held us in good stead.
"They've got some key players and I think they rely pretty heavily on those guys.
"Stoinis and Maxwell, they're probably their two key players and have been for most of the season. Haris Rauf is back from international duty."
The battle within a battle between Hazlewood and the Stars' leading lights, both overlooked for the recent ODI tour of India, should be pivotal and pulsating.
Stoinis went on a clean-hitting rampage during the rivals' regular-season meeting at the same venue, finishing 147 not out, but Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith and Sean Abbott didn't feature in that clash.
"I haven't seen it at all. I've seen enough of Stoiny bat in the nets and play games," Hazlewood said of the stunning knock.
"We'll have our plans to him and obviously the guys who played that game have changed a few things up. We beat them at the SCG, so spirits are high."
Lyon dismissed Stoinis for 62 last week in Sydney, where the hosts successfully defended a target of 147 from 14 overs in the rain-affected contest.
Hazlewood didn't attempt to downplay the threat posed by the season's leading run-scorer Stoinis and Stars skipper Maxwell.
"Their scoring ability all around the ground (is what stands out). Maxwell's strike-rate is through the roof and he can change a game in a couple of overs," he said.
"It's about getting him in as early as possible, hopefully against the new ball. Knock them over in the first six or eight overs."
The Stars are riding a three-match losing streak into the finals, while the Sixers have won three on the trot.
Hazlewood has played three games for the men in magenta this season, while Smith is fresh from a match-winning knock of 66 not out.
"The way we saw Smithy bat the other night, we know he's got his groove back for T20 cricket," Hazlewood said.
STARS BBL BATTING STATS THIS SEASON
* Stoinis: 607 runs * Maxwell: 373 runs * Rest of the team: 900 runs.