The Perth Scorchers must achieve what no team has done this summer and knock off the Melbourne Stars if they are to secure a home Big Bash semi-final.
With the Sydney Sixers confirmed as their semi-final opponents, Perth can avoid a trip to the SCG by knocking off the undefeated Stars on Monday and win semi-final hosting rights at the WACA.
Despite the obvious advantage of playing at “The Furnace” rather than in Sydney, Scorchers coach Justin Langer was relaxed by the prospect of a cross-continent mission but still hoping to beat the BBL leaders in a potential final preview.
“It would be nice to have a dress rehearsal against the Stars. They’re obviously the best performed team, so it (will) be nice to play them before the final,” he said.
Langer said the Scorchers, beaten finalists in the first two seasons, were tracking well.
“We all want to get some silverware back in the cabinets at the WACA,” he said.
“We’ve been in two finals, you want to win one sooner or later don’t you.
“Either way we have to concentrate on this game and then make sure we win the semi-final for any of that to become a reality.”
Both sides face major withdrawals ahead of the afternoon match at the MCG, with a host of players out for the Stars and the Scorchers losing Yassir Arafat to a thumb injury.
Langer backed Alfonso Thomas, who has just one wicket in five matches, to step up in Arafat’s absence.
“If I was to back my life on a Twenty20 bowler it would be Alfonso Thomas,” he said.
“It’s a really tough blow losing Yasir, because he’s been so good for us, but I’ve got absolute confidence in Alfonso Thomas.”
With an unblemished 7-0 record so far, the Stars will carry heavy favouritism into the knock-out finals but are barely recognisable to the team that began the tournament.
Australian T20 squad members Cameron White and James Muirhead are out as they will be preparing for Wednesday’s series opener against England, while Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Clint McKay and Glenn Maxwell are on national one-day duties and Jackson Bird and Rob Quiney aren’t fit.
The Stars have also traded Lasith Malinga - unexpectedly called back to Sri Lanka for extra national training - for Pakistani T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez.
The 33-year-old allrounder carries great form into the Big Bash having scored three centuries in Pakistan’s one-day series win over Sri Lanka in December.