BBL minor premiers Melbourne Stars have tumbled in their qualifying final against the Sydney Sixers, going down by 44 runs at the MCG.
The Stars again buckled under post-season pressure, being upstaged by the Sydney Sixers in Friday night’s qualifying final at the MCG.
Chasing a modest 143 to win, the Stars collapsed to be all-out for 99 – the lowest score in their history.
After a solid start in the chase, the Stars lost 6-40, including key batsmen Marcus Stoinis (five), Glenn Maxwell (17) and Nic Maddinson (16), in another extraordinary finals collapse.
A disciplined bowling display from the Sixers, led by Josh Hazlewood (2-13), Sean Abbott (3-23) and Steve O’Keefe (2-22), set them on their way to an impressive 43-run win.
It means the Sixers are through to their fourth BBL decider and in reach of their first title since the inaugural season of the competition in 2011-12.
It all seemed to be going well for the Stars when Australian legspinner Adam Zampa (3-21) helped restrict the Sixers to 7-142 after they started well when being sent into bat
Zampa was outstanding with 3-21, which included the vital scalp of Steve Smith for 24 after the Australian batting maestro threatened to build a big total for the Sixers.
The Stars thought they had Smith earlier than that when he ducked a short ball from Haris Rauf and the bails fell off.
But in one of the more bizarre things seen on a cricket field, a strong wind gust came through to light the bails up at the exact same time Smith edged towards the stumps.
While the disappointed Stars will be shattered with another finals let-down, they could still meet the Sixers again in the final on February 8.
Maxwell’s team will host the winner of Saturday’s match between Adelaide and the Sydney Thunder on Thursday for shot at progressing to the decider.
But instead of hosting it at the MCG if they win, they would then have to travel to play the Sixers on their SCG deck.
The Stars have made the finals in eight of the nine BBL seasons, but are one of only two teams – along with Hobart – who are yet to win a title.