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Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat Preview: Basement battle on the agenda

The bottom two teams in the Big Bash League standings meet at the MCG on Monday, with the rock-bottom Melbourne Stars hosting the Brisbane Heat.

A play-off place for either side looks like something of a distant possibility, with whichever team loses this clash seeing their chances realistically come to an end.

The Stars and the Heat are yet to meet this season, with their return match-up taking place at the Gabba on Sunday 22nd January.

WhatMelbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat
WhereMelbourne Cricket Ground
When19:15, Monday 16th December
How to watchFox Sports, Seven & Kayo
OddsMelbourne Stars 6/5, Brisbane Heat 4/6

Stars continue to fail to shine

The Stars have endured a season to forget so far, having lost eight of the 11 matches they have played, with their last outing ending in a six-run loss in the Melbourne derby against the Renegades on Saturday.

Having restricted the Renegades to 162-7 in their 20 overs, the Stars came up agonisingly short, despite a fine 59 at the top of the order from Joe Clarke.

Englishman Clarke has been the standout performer with the bat for the Stars, making 342 runs at a strike-rate of 130 and his continued excellence is required, especially in the absence of the injured Marcus Stoinis.

Clarke and Tom Rogers put on 88 for the first wicket before the middle-order failed to deliver against the Renegades and their partnership could again be key against the Heat.

Rogers is 9/2 to be Team - Top Batter on Monday, with Clarke available at 3/1.

With the ball, the Stars were hampered in the derby defeat by the absence of Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has taken 13 wickets in eight appearances so far this season.

That is four less than English left-arm seamer Luke Wood, who is the third-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 17.

However, Wood has taken just a single wicket in each of his last four outings, while skipper and leg-spinner Adam Zampa has a return of a mere three wickets from his last four matches.

A little more potency from that pair, as well as a more economical showing from Wood, could be essential if the Stars are to register a success against the Heat.

And, despite their recent form not being above average, Wood at 9/4 and Zampa at 12/5 are the two leading players in the Team - Top Bowler market.

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Heat buoyed by Strikers success

The Heat were also in action as recently as Saturday, when they claimed a 17-run victory over the Strikers at the Adelaide Oval.

Their batting line-up has been boosted by the recent returns of Australia trio Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Matt Renshaw, with Labuschagne the top-scorer in the match with 46 from 33 balls.

Sam Hain will also be hoping to make his mark, having made just six on his first appearance of the season.

The 28-year-old right-hander - who played for Australia U-19s before heading to England - has the second-highest average of any batter who has played in more than 50 List A matches, but has amazingly not featured on the international stage so far.

Hain is a somewhat distant 7/1 to be Team - Top Batter on Monday, with Labuschagne available at 3/1.

With the ball, the Heat have struggled to enjoy much success, with their problems highlighted by the fact that leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson has taken a mere two wickets in nine matches, at an economy rate of 8.58 and a dismal average of 124.50.

Seamer James Bazley has fared significantly better in taking 11 wickets, eight of which have come in his last three outings - including 3-30 in the win over the Strikers and 4-22 in an 11-run loss to the Sydney Thunder.

He can be backed at 10/3 to be Team - Top Bowler against the Stars, while there is certain to be plenty of attention paid to tearaway left-armer Spencer Johnson.

Johnson took 1-28 against the Strikers after an economical wicketless spell in his BBL debut in the loss to the Perth Scorchers.

Having generated pace in excess of 150kph, Spencer has been likened to namesake Mitchell Johnson by some observers and the Heat will hope to see him build on his fine start,

He is 9/2 to be Team - Top Bowler on Monday.

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