Haris Rauf leaves Melbourne Stars after Pakistan Test call-up
Haris Rauf leaves Melbourne Stars after Pakistan Test call-up

Stars finals hopes rocked by Rauf blow

Melbourne Stars' finals ambitions have been dealt a savage blow with star quick Haris Rauf receiving a surprise call-up to Pakistan's Test squad.

Rauf - who rose to international prominence after a breakout BBL09 with the Stars - has been included in Pakistan's squad to face South Africa in a historic home series which starts on January 26.

The Stars have confirmed Rauf has played his last game of BBL10 and he was due to leave Australia on Saturday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said players would be required to enter a biosecurity bubble from January 19 before the two-Test series.

Rauf has played 11 T20 internationals and two one-dayers but was yet to make his Test debut.

"The horses for courses policy means performers like left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, off-spinner Sajid Shah, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan will be available for selection, depending on the team composition for the first Test against South Africa in Pakistan in 14 years," Pakistan's chief selector Muhammad Wasim said.

 

He was part of Pakistan's touring party in New Zealand but joined the Stars after being overlooked for the Test series against the Black Caps.

West Indian Andre Fletcher, who blasted 89 from 49 balls in the Stars' victory over Adelaide Strikers on Saturday, could also depart before finals.

Fletcher signed a deal to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, which starts on January 28, and said he was unsure whether he would feature in the rest of BBL10.

"I signed a T10 deal a few weeks before the BBL, so I'll have a think about it, speak to my agent and see what he says," Fletcher said.

"I would love to stay."

 

 

 

LARA HELPS FELLOW WEST INDIAN OUT OF BBL FUNK

 

A conversation with West Indies legend Brian Lara proved the catalyst for the rapid change in fortunes for Melbourne Stars opener Andre 'Spiceman' Fletcher, who struck a matchwinning 89 off 49 balls on Friday night against the Strikers.

Having struggled to make an impact in BBL10 to date, where his highest score was just 18 in nine innings, West Indian Fletcher struck the ball to all parts of the MCG in a devastating knock.

The innings pushed the Stars to an above-par 2-179, before an Adam Zampa (5-17) led attack bowled the Strikers out for just 68 - their lowest ever total and the third-lowest in BBL history.

Fletcher revealed post-match that a surprise call on Wednesday had helped him refocus in the must-win game for the Stars.

"I just decided to continue to be as positive as I can be and play each ball on its merits," he said.

"Actually that was the advice I got from the great man himself Brian Charles Lara. It was good that I applied myself and took his advice."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asked to elaborate on the call, Fletcher said Lara, the West Indies greatest ever batsman, was generous with his time and urged him to call in future should he want advice.

"Actually he called me and I was surprised to be honest. He was telling me that, looking from the outside I've been striking the ball cleanly, and to just give myself an opportunity. He gave me some advice about the MCG and (about) giving myself that chance and playing each ball on its merits. I'm an aggressive player so no need to go out there and look to power the ball, and to be honest that's what I did today and I just want to continue that."

The huge 111-run win saw Glenn Maxwell's side leap from seventh on the BBL table into fourth, ahead of back-to-back clashes against cross-town rivals the Melbourne Renegades.

Fletcher paid tribute to his Stars teammates and coaches post-game, and said the innings had been a weight lifted off his shoulders.

 

 

 

 

"I'm so happy. To be honest I was a bit overwhelmed and a bit emotional at the end," he said.

"The reason for that is because of the family we have in the team. It's not just a team but a Melbourne Stars family. The coach David Hussey and Luke Wright, Stoiny (Marcus Stoins), Maxi (Maxwell) and the other guys they have been telling me to continue building from strength to strength. I'm striking the ball well so to wait for that opportunity which will come."

The first of two Stars v Renegades clashes will take place on Sunday night at the MCG.

 

 

THE MATCH: SPICE MAN HEROICS LAUNCH STARS TO VICTORY

 

A blistering innings of 89 from Andre 'Spice Man' Fletcher led the Melbourne Stars to a dominant 111-run win against the Adelaide Strikers at the MCG on Friday night.

Fletcher, whose highest score in nine previous innings this season was just 18, hammered four sixes in his 49-ball knock in front of a delighted MCG crowd who witnessed their first taste of BBL action this season.

Ably supported by Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28) and Hilton Cartwright (30 not out off 17), West Indian Fletcher - who some had argued should be dropped after a poor run of form - pushed the Stars to an above-par 2-179.

In reply, Australian leg spinner Adam Zampa (5-17) ripped through the Strikers and took his second-best ever T20 figures to seal a huge victory.

The Strikers' 10-68 was the third-lowest score in BBL history.

Prior to Friday night's clash the Stars had lost five of their last six games and were desperate to reinvigorate a season that had started brightly.

The win, in which the Stars picked up all four points on offers, moves Maxwell's side level on 20 points with three other clubs (Scorchers, Strikers and Heat).

 

Stoinis stunted

After Carey won the bat flip and sent the Stars in, big-hitting opener Marcus Stoinis (13 off 26) had an innings to forget.

The Aussie star struggled to pierce the field during the power play, eventually dismissed by a contentious full-toss from Danny Briggs, which was adjudged only just below the waist from the third umpire.

The innings forced skipper Maxwell to push himself up the order in a bid to boost the run-rate.

 

Late surge

The Stars managed just 57 runs in their first 10 overs, and appeared on-track for a sub-150 score.

But the home side hammered 122 off the next 10 overs in a brutal display of power hitting that included a huge straight six from Cartwright that almost sailed into the Great Southern Stand's second tier.

Wes Agar (0-46) was the main victim among the carnage, and conceded 36 runs off his last two overs.

 

Spin to win

The Strikers were completely shut-out of their chase from the Stars spinners.

Zampa, alongside Maxwell (2-12) and Zahir Khan (2-19) were the pick of the Stars' bowlers and gave them little chance in pursuit of 180.

 

Back in the sporting capital

After 39 games around the country, the BBL roadshow finally arrived in Melbourne on Friday night.

Due to Covid restrictions the MCG was permitted to host 15,000 patrons.

Friday night's encounter was the first of 10 matches in 12 days in the city, culminating in an MCG double-header on Australia Day.

Originally published as Stars finals hopes rocked by Rauf blow


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